published Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Replacement East Brainerd Elementary school to cost $23 million

A replacement East Brainerd Elementary school building will cost Hamilton County taxpayers about $23 million.

At its 5:30 p.m. meeting today, the county school board is expected to approve the low bid of $23,142,000 for the school, to be built on the site of the old David Brainerd private school. Buildings on that site now are being used as overflow for East Brainerd Elementary’s original campus on East Brainerd Road.

Tri-Con Construction underbid the next lowest bidder by more than $2 million. Five other companies bid on the projects, with one bid as high as $26.3 million. Though Tri-Con came in so much lower than the others, school officials say they and the company are comfortable with the agreed amount. Tri-Con, based in Cleveland, Tenn., built Soddy Elementary School, which opened in 2008.

“I think it’s a good bid,” school system Superintendent Rick Smith said. “They’ve worked in Hamilton County before and it was good work.”

If both the board and the County Commission approve the bid, construction on the 1,100-capacity school could begin as early as February and the facility be ready for classes in August 2015.

Students still will go to class in David Brainerd’s old buildings as the two-story structure goes up around them. Sometime in the middle of construction, the current gymnasium will be demolished. The other two buildings on the campus will go down in the summer just before the new school opens.

“That’s the challenge,” said lead architect Vance Travis, with TWH Architects. “We had to design it and plan it in a way that we could begin construction on a new school — which is going to take more than a year to build — while the existing school is still being used.”

But the school system has completed such projects in the past, including a replacement Orchard Knob Elementary School that opened in 2008.

“This will be almost exactly like that. We’ll keep the existing school in operation,” said Gary Waters, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services.

Since Red Bank Middle and Ooltewah Elementary schools opened this fall, school officials have had a lull in school construction. But school board Chairman Mike Evatt said the board will start meeting after the new year to determine what comes next.

School leaders have compiled a list of more than $200 million in needed construction projects, and Evatt said his facilities committee will start creating a scaled-down to-do list.

Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at khardy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249.

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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