BOE wants $10.5 million

Jeremy Nash
Loudon County Board of Education hammered out a facilities renovation plan Thursday that will be presented Monday to county commissioners.

The board will ask Loudon County Commission for $7 million for Loudon High School, $3 million for Highland Park Elementary School and $500,000 for North Middle and Eaton Elementary schools.

The BOE also agreed as part of the plan to use up to $1 million from the board’s fund balance to demolish the old Greenback School.

The resolution passed unanimously following a motion and second from BOE member Craig Simon and Vice Chairman Ric Best.

Best said the plan is to add a wing at LHS that could be used for administrative and academic space, visual and performing arts and career and technical education.

Four to six classrooms, along with a number of renovations, need to be added to Highland Park, he said.

“We have two outdoor classrooms presently out there and we are going to replace those two,” Best said about Highland Park after the meeting. “Then, of course, you’ve got to have classrooms for the classrooms that are now underneath the gym, and there’s other things. Like, for instance, that school only has two main bathrooms for that entire school. There’s just two restrooms and teachers lost their restroom lounge to a classroom.”

The board will also look to resolve traffic issues at North Middle and Eaton Elementary.

Board Chairman Bobby Johnson Jr. said a similar resolution was presented to commissioners in 2012, but the estimated costs for the capital projects were different.

“These are things that aren’t fluff things,” Director of Schools Jason Vance said. “I mean, (these) things are very appropriate that we’ve been over in the past years but we don’t have the maintenance budget large enough to encompass this. For example, Eaton Elementary would love to be able to take out some of the carpet in some of their classrooms. I think there’s an opportunity to do some of that with the understanding that you don’t dip so far down that budget, the reserve budget, that it cuts your throat for the upcoming budgets.”

During the meeting, Best reminded board members there were other projects on the horizon they must tackle after the capital projects resolution was submitted, including determining a course of action for the Loudon County Technology Center.

“I may not be popular in this opinion, but I think if they (commission) work with us and give us $10.5 million we should figure out a way to come to some sort of resolution,” Vance said.

In a somewhat related matter, Vance said he would speak with a Realtor about putting 80 acres owned by the BOE near U.S. Highway 321 on the market. The BOE purchased the property in 2006 for $2.2 million with plans to build a high school and middle school.