Loudon schools' budget swells

$778,000 added for furniture, roofs, bleachers

Hugh G. Willett, knoxnews.com

LOUDON - The Loudon County school board added $778,000 to its 2008-09 capital budget Thursday for furniture, roofing at three schools and upgraded bleachers at four schools, but the question of how to open and close those bleachers generated some protest.

Upgrading the bleachers to meet codes could be completed for about $300,000, officials said, including $75,000 for a motorized opening and closing function, maintenance supervisor Dave Hemelright said.

"We could hire three new family liaisons (for that $75,000) and have them open the bleachers," board member Freddie Gene Walker said. "I'm retiring next year. For $75,000, I'll pull the bleachers out."

Superintendent Wayne Honeycutt told the board that his research indicated that motorizing the bleachers could double their useful life because it reduces strain on the mechanism caused by improper manual opening and closing.

The board voted to approve adding the motorized bleachers to the budget, with Walker the lone no vote.

Honeycutt told the board that repairs are needed to the roofs of Loudon Elementary, Philadelphia Elementary and Loudon High schools.

"These are the top three, and we feel they need to be done first," Honeycutt said.

Hemelright explained that some roofs on the schools in question were last replaced in 1980. Repairs to the three schools could be completed for about $463,000 with a 10-year warranty, he said.

After some discussion about the process and material to be used for the repairs, the board voted unanimously to add the roofing projects.

New or refurbished bleachers at Fort Loudoun Middle, North Middle, Greenback and Loudon High schools are necessary because the bleachers, some as old as 60 years, are out of compliance with fire and safety codes, Hemelright said.

Board member Bill Marcus questioned the wisdom of putting new bleachers at Greenback when it is still not clear how future construction projects might affect the gym. Some plans include replacing the school altogether.

Marcus also was concerned about the cost of electrical work to hook up the power to the bleachers. The cost of electrical work was not included in the estimate, he noted.

Code compliance issues make it necessary to replace the bleachers regardless of future plans, Hemelright said.

The board also voted unanimously to add $15,000 to the budget to pay for furniture at the Alternative School.