$46,836,996.00 to be exact. That's the final estimate on the Phase 1 school building program. The plan includes A new school in Greenback, $29,391,965.00, a new middle school in Loudon, $15,945,000.00 and cafeteria renovations/expansions at Philadelphia. These are the best, closest estimates on the projects till they are actually put out to bid. The estimates were prepared by Merit Construction, the firm hired by the school board as the construction manager.

So there it is, the long awaited numbers are in. Most everyone feels when the projects go to bid, the bids will come in less. Hopefully much less. It's now up to county commission to decide if they will provide funding for the projects. Without a doubt, it will require a property tax increase to fund the building program.

It is expected commission will take up the debate in the next budget cycle which will begin early next year.