|At Thursday's board of
education meeting, the board passed a building program that would build
two new schools and add additions and renovations to two others in phase
one. Phase two of the plan would construct another new school within the
next two years. The new buildings and additions are desperately needed
to improve education in Loudon County. That said, a building plan must
also fit within the financial capacities of Loudon County residents. The
adopted plan fits the bill on both accounts.
For weeks as the board has been
discussing a building program, a number of
architects and engineer firms have been graciously sending us
information on school building projects they have recently completed.
These documents give us at least some ball park figure of what our
building program could cost.
Below, for those of you who are
really interested in the building program, are some cost estimates based
on the information we have received. Let me make it clear, these are
simply estimates presumed based on our needed space multiplied by what
seems to be the average cost for building educational facilities. This
is probably as close as we can get till we actually hire an
Click here for Community Tectonics recent projects.
Click here for COPE Associates recent
Hard Numbers and Estimates Pertaining to the Building Program
At Greenback new Pre K-12.
Currently there are 671 students (ADM 11/10/08). The existing building
has 78,440 sq. ft. not including portables.
New building plan calls for the new school to be 100,000 sq. ft. to
serve 1000 students.
Operating costs should go down dramatically in a new more energy
efficient building and the elimination of the five portables which would
New Middle School at Loudon.
Currently there are 394 students (ADM 11/10/08). The existing building
has 40,900 sq. ft. not including portable.
New building plan calls for the new school to be 70,000-80,000 sq. ft.
to serve 700-800 students.
If the board has no intention to ever combine Philadelphia Middle, 188
students (ADM 11/10/08), with the new Loudon Middle School, the sq. ft.
for the new middle school can be greatly reduced.
Operating cost would be increased by utilities for new building. However
these increases would be more than off set by the operating cost
reductions achieved by the combination Loudon Elementary and the old
Fort Loudon Middle
Combining Loudon Elementary and Fort Loudon Middle Pre K -5
Currently the two schools combined have 860 students (ADM 11/10/08).
Loudon Elementary 466 students (ADM 11/10/08), Fort Loudon Middle 394 (ADM
11/10/08). Combined sq. ft. 76,274 not including portables.
The relocation of the middle school students to the new middle school
would leave the elementary school with more than double the sq. ft.
currently available in the elementary school.
The plan calls for a new central cafeteria/office that would be built
between and attached to the existing buildings. Previous estimates were
for approximately 7,000 sq. ft. of new construction.
At this time there are no plans to make any class room alterations or
renovations but to wait and let the elementary school to expand into the
entire facility and allow them time to better evaluate their needs.
Alterations to the existing facilities, if needed, could be undertaken
in phase two.
Operating costs would be greatly decreased by the elimination of
duplicated services and the elimination of the five portables which
would be sold.
Expand/Renovate or Replace Cafeteria at Philadelphia.
There are no estimates of the needs at Philadelphia on the cafeteria but
the cost should be very low with renovation costs in the $75 per. Sq.
At this time there are no plans for any classroom additions to
Philadelphia but to wait to see what effect the new middle school in
Loudon has on the middle school population in Philadelphia. It is
expected that there will be some migration of middle school students
from Philadelphia to the new Loudon Middle school which could reduce the
overall population at Philadelphia.
Renovations or additions of class rooms at Philadelphia if needed could
be addressed in phase two.
Included in the approved building plan is phase two. Phase two of the
plan which will commence on completion of phase one will include a new
middle school in the north end of the county. The new north end middle
school should mirror in cost and size the new middle school in Loudon.
Highland Park (Pre K- 4) currently has 394 students (ADM 11/10/08) with
46,170 sq. ft. not including portables.
Eaton Elementary (Pre K- 4) currently has 696 students (ADM 11/10/08)
with 81,246 sq. ft. not including portables.
North Middle School (5-8) currently has 872 students (ADM 11/10/08) with
89,076 sq. ft. not including portables.
A new north end middle would relieve over crowding at all three north
end schools. Potentially the board could sell or more desirably trade
the 80 acres of property on Hwy. 321 for a more desirable location
Cost estimates are based on information provided to the board by
Community Tectonics Architects, Architects Weeks Ambrose McDonald Inc.,
Johnson Architecture and COPE Associates Inc. Architecture.
Based of information we have received from the various architects and
engineers the going rate for new construction is in the $100-$125 per
sq. ft. range for total building and site preparation. Under that
assumption rough estimate costs could be in the 21 -25 mil. range. Of
course this could change up or down depending on what the
architect/engineers tell us. This plan should also reduce operating cost
across the board. The plan will also take care of student growth in the
county for many, many years.
New Pre K-12 School at Greenback for 1000 students/100,000 sq. ft.
100,000 sq. ft. @ $125.00 per sq. ft.= $12,500,000.
New middle school at Loudon, large plan, for 700-800
students/70,000-80,000 sq. ft.on the property beside LHS.
80,000 sq. ft. @ $125.00 per sq. ft. = $10,000,000.00.
New middle school at Loudon, reduced plan, for 500-600
students/50,000-60,000 sq. ft. on the property beside LHS.
60,000 sq. ft. @ $125.00 per sq. ft. = $7,500,000.00.
New central cafeteria/office for Loudon Elementary.
7,000 sq. ft. @ $125.00 per sq. ft. = $875,000.00.
Expand/Renovate or Replace Cafeteria at Philadelphia.
These cost are hard to estimate until surveying work is done. However,
renovation costs are around $75 per sq. ft. which would put the cost of
a 2,000 sq. ft. addition/renovation at around $150,000.00.
Total estimated costs of phase one plus/minus, $21,025,000.00 -
$23,525,000.00 depending on the size of the new middle school in Loudon.
Of course all estimates above could change up or down depending on many
factors. These are only close estimates based on available information
at this time.
Financing the plan.
The great aspects of the adopted plan is that no property tax increase
should be necessary to finance the debt service on the building plan.
It is not the place of the BOE to determine the financing for the plan.
However we can make some suggestions.
When a final dollar amount that is needed for the building program is
determined, the commission and the BOE should have cash in reserves that
could be used to off set the total amount the county would need to
A small addition of current tax pennies to the Rural Debt Fund 156 would
more than cover the debt service on the needed loan.
Hopefully, as we all continue to explore and learn more about the
possibilities of the new building plan, we can all support the plan for
the benefit of the entire county.