Mary E. Hinds News herald
After debate that
could have been at times both heated and humorous, the Loudon
County School Board voted to approve the funds needed to take
Phase I of the county school building program through the design
and development phase.
As planned, Phase
I of the building program includes a new Pre K through grade-12
school in Greenback, a new middle school in Loudon, combining
Loudon Elementary School and Fort Loudon Middle School (FLMS)
into a Pre K through grade-5 and the expansion or replacement of
the cafeteria at Philadelphia Elementary.
Board Chairman Leroy Tate began the discussion moving
immediately to carry all the projects to the design and
"We've talked this
to death," Tate said to the board adding " we have the funding
from the county commission to do that."
He also said that by the time the projects were ready to break
ground, he estimated in one-and-a-half to two years, the economy
could turn around or there could be a chance for more money from
Board member Bobby Johnson Jr. asked Tate how he knew how much
money the county commission was willing to devote to the
building program. Tate said he understood there was $20 million
available now and the fees for taking the projects to the design
and development phase would be $1million of that $20 million.
Arguments ensued between several board members until Tate
appeared to become fed up. "I've listened to this for six
months," Tate said. "I've listened to this for five years, "
Board member Van Shaver said he didn't know how Tate could be
sure of the amount of money available from the commission. He
said Tate was talking like the commission had already voted to
supply the money when he knew no such vote had been taken.
Tate said he was using the same figures everyone had been using
Board member Gary Ubben said he felt the project to combine
Loudon Elementary School and Fort Loudoun Middle School (FLMS)
"was going in the wrong direction" with the current plan to
combine the schools with a larger cafeteria and office suite
when the plan should address the pods at FLMS. The pods are four
interconnected classrooms. He said the school did not have to
be physically combined in order for them to have joint
Tate suggested Director Wayne Honeycutt instruct the architects
working on the plan to come to a meeting of the board with
pencil drawing of the basic design and plans for alternatives,
such as not combining the schools physically and a plan to
redesign the pods.
Shaver questioned how much was owed to the architectural firm of
Weeks, Ambrose and McDonald and what had already been paid for.
He said the design for the conjoining of the schools was the
same one the firm came up with in 2006. "Do we owe them
anymore?" Shaver asked, adding the board shouldn't pay anymore
money "until they figure out what we're paying for."
the board had already paid the firm.
Shaver also said the initial plans for FLMS and Greenback have
changed and wanted to know why. Honeycutt said after discussions
with the faculties at both schools the size of the plans had
changed to accommodate the programs at the schools and the
number of classrooms needed to house those programs.
Shaver said the process was moving backwards and the board was
paying money for a plan they have not seen since they were not
involved in the process of altering the plans. He also said if
the board voted to approve the $1 million for the plans "the
amount won't come down." Honeycutt said the amount could change
as the board votes on the plans making them smaller or larger.
Board member Larry Proaps reminded the board while the county
commission may have indicated there would be $20 million for the
first phase of the building program, phase one has been
estimated to cost upwards of $40 million. "We cannot build
everything," he said adding "we've got to do something." He
urged the board to "quit bickering — vote and move on."
couple of motions and amendments were voted down and Tate left the meeting
because he had another obligation.
Shaver returned to
the question of how much the board owes the architectural firm.
He said the board had already paid them $167,500 and now he was
unclear on whether or not another $40,000 was owed or if
$200,000 was owed. "I don't think we should pay them anymore
money" until that question was answered Shaver said. "I'm a
little troubled tonight because I find myself agreeing with
Van," joked Ubben, who frequently disagrees with Shaver at board
Shaver moved to bring all four projects to the design and
development phase contingent on clarification of the architect's
fees for the combining of FLMS and Loudon Elementary. The board
voted in favor of the motion with only Bill Marcus voting
Ubben then moved the plans for the combining of the schools use
the 2006 plan but include alternatives for changing the schools
including a plan that would change the pods, plans that showed
the two schools connected by the cafeteria, office suite and
corridors and plans without the connection. This motion was
voted down by the board.
Board Vice Chairman Scott Newman, who took over the meeting when
Tate departed, suggested the board meet at the schools in
question along with the architects to begin deciding how to
reconfigure the two schools. The board agreed and the meeting
was set for May 20 at 7 p.m. at Loudon Elementary.
The board decided to have a budget meeting May 21 at 6 p.m. at
the Central Office Building in Loudon to begin to decide how to
pay for the plans.