|County BOE seeks additional funds
After receiving bids higher than initially estimated, Loudon County Board of Education has asked Director of Schools Jason Vance to seek more funds out of the Adequate Facilities Tax Fund to construct a new North Middle School fine arts facility.
Board members Leroy Tate and Gary Ubben motioned and seconded, respectively, to approve the contract with Evans-Ailey Construction. The vote passed 8-0 during the Jan. 11 board meeting. Board member Bobby Johnson Jr. was absent.
“We’re frustrated that the bids had come in this way because we had anticipated they would come in a significantly lower cost when we were first going through this process, but in essence we had allocated $550,000 on the board’s side and the county commission obviously approved that amount of money,” Vance said. “So when we sent bids out we were anticipating it be somewhere in that ballpark figure.”
Vance will now be tasked to go back to the county capital projects committee and Loudon County Commission to request $100,000.
County commission in June approved $550,000 to renovate the North Middle School music room into locker rooms and construct a new fine arts facility.
Three bids were received Dec. 19 for the project, with the lowest being Evans-Ailey Construction at $670,000. Others were Wright Construction at $778,200 and K&F Construction Inc., at $809,000.
“We believe that Evans-Ailey turned in a really fair bid to be more than $100,000-plus cheaper than the next lowest bidder,” Vance said. “I’m proud about their desire to stay in Loudon County and keep other construction companies out. … If we could get them to give us another $100,000 that puts us at $650,000 and then we would ask Evans-Ailey to figure out a way to do some value engineering so we could bring the other $20,000 down to meet our budget.”
Vance believes the earliest he could go before county commission would be the March 5 meeting. If approved, Evans-Ailey could be ready to break ground a week later.
“An alternative to that if they said, ‘No, you can’t have another extra $100,000,’ then the school board would have to go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to value engineer it even further down to $550,000,” Vance said.
Compromises may have to be made to the facility if more funding is not provided, Vance said. Plans currently include making the facility 3,200 square feet, while the current room is 1,000 square feet.
School board member Craig Simon called seeking additional funding “a little bit unfortunate.” He believes $50,000-$75,000 will be needed to get the project done.
“We thought we budgeted pretty well for it and as the director mentioned, they could do it within our budget but it put a constraint from an acoustic standpoint on the facility and once we looked into it a little bit more we decided we didn’t want to — in Dr. (Ric) Best’s interest, we didn’t want to — we wanted to do it right in his defense and I personally remember he was very touchy about that situation,” Simon said.
As of June, there was $1.8 million in the Adequate Facilities Tax Fund.
“That fund is there to allow us to have access to some growth kinds of funds and projects like that that result in community growth,” Ubben said. “That’s the purpose of that fund really to use in that way. I don’t have any discomfort with that at all.”
In other news, Loudon County Board of Education:
Agreed to take a piece of property between Greenback School athletic fields and school from the city if there were no stipulations.
Approved budget amendments in Funds 141 and 142, with the understanding $68,000 will roll into fund balance from the Tennessee Department of Education. The BOE will then appropriate $40,000 for Greenback School baseball lights and reallocate $30,000 for Fort Loudoun Middle School for safety issues regarding the athletic facilities.
Passed the second and final reading for Policy 3.400, which covers student transportation management and provides contact information on buses for safety complaints.
Allowed county resident Joyce Tielleman to enroll her grandchild into Loudon County Schools. The child’s mother now lives out of the state.