CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Construction has started on a new storm-resistant eight-classroom pod for Walker Valley High School.
"It's an investment in the future," said Danny Coggin, principal of Walker Valley.
The new classroom building is needed to relieve overcrowding at the school, which was established in 2001, Coggin said. Current enrollment is 1,586 students, but the school was built for a capacity of 1,200. The new building should provide space for 240 students and is expected to be finished this spring, he said.
Walls are expected to come up quickly after a concrete slab is poured in the near future, consultant Angie Lyon said at a recent Bradley County Schools board meeting.
The project is part of a three-piece package for Walker Valley that includes more cafeteria space and security improvements for the entrance vestibule. The renovations will amount to $1.7 million in construction, design and contingency costs, said Rick Smith, business manager for Bradley County Schools.
The new classroom facility, which will be built to resist winds up to 200 miles per hour, will receive $1.2 million in hazard mitigation funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, education officials said. The grant requires a local match of $300,000.
Bradley County education officials also continued to focus on a proposed $14 million overhaul of Lake Forest Middle School, which entails replacement of the campus' classroom pods with a central academic building.
A recent geo-technical survey revealed that the ground on which the classroom pods now stand would be good for installing a geothermal field, Lyon said. Preliminary plans call for building a new academic facility on firmer ground elsewhere on campus.
Despite the Bradley County Commission's recent decision not to approve a 7.72 cent property tax increase to fund Lake Forest renovations, school board member Chris Turner expressed hope that the conversation would continue.
Turner, who attended the voting session in which the increase was rejected, said that a number of opposing commissioners cited concerns that their city constituents already faced an 18.51 cent increase by the city of Cleveland.
In other business, Bradley schools Director Johnny McDaniel announced changes intended to improve the efficiency and transparency of the school system's energy management program. The energy manager will be issued a vehicle, gas card and laptop, eliminating mileage reimbursement for in-county travel and reducing trips to the central office to access energy management software.
The announcement followed a report by school board Chairman Charlie Rose on his research into increasing mileage expenses associated with the energy management program over a six-year period.
No evidence of wrongdoing was found, he said.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at email@example.com.