Priorities Askew Again?

With what seems to be a never ending saga, the Loudon County Board Of Education met again Thursday, this time to work on their capitol projects budget. Capitol projects are generally building and maintenance issues. The board heard from school officials about the need for roof repairs some cafeteria equipment needs and several other items.

The one item that caused some controversy was a request for bleacher repairs for all schools. Price tag, $175,763.Someone had apparently requested a bleacher survey for all schools. The report came back with recommendations for each school for a total of $294,715.00. However when the vote came up, the total was just $175,000..00.

Greenback BOE candidate, Lisa Russell, brought it to the board's attention that the estimate was much higher than what they were being asked to vote on. Bill Marcus promptly called for the chairman to follow protocol and not allow others to speak. Some board members wanted to know about the report Ms. Russell had but were not allowed to see it. In the end the board voted for the $175,000.00.

Even though the bleachers have been written up by the fire marshal at Greenback two years running, the only repairs that are actually being considered are at Loudon High School, $132,105.00, and the bulk of that one is for motorized bleachers and repairs in the balcony in the gym.

Once again, it's just hard to imagine that given all the financial circumstances, the board's priorities are bleachers that are in good order yet in Greenback where the bleachers have been written up by the fire marshal, nothing.

Loudon school board OKs improvements

Hugh G. Willett,

LOUDON - The Loudon County school board Thursday approved more than $700,000 in capital improvements as part of the 2008-2009 school budget.

The board also learned money found by auditors in an inactive account might fund more capital items for the coming year.

The biggest item on the capital list was $530,000 for roof repairs to several schools. The board also approved $175,000 for repairs and renovations to bleachers at schools, including Loudon High.

The board discussed spending $50,000 to pave a road leading to the portable trailers at Loudon Elementary School after learning fire regulations require a paved access road.

"The fire marshal said the road is needed if the portables are going to be used," schools superintendent Edward Headlee said.

Although the county could request a bond issue to build the road, Headlee suggested that would take too long. "The fire marshal said the road has to be ready by the time school starts."

Board member Leroy Tate asked if the road had to be blacktopped. A "chip and chute" road would be adequate to provide access for heavy fire trucks and less expensive, Tate said.

Funding could come from an inactive fund designated for architectural work that has been postponed, Headlee suggested.

A recent audit of the school department showed about $224,000 sitting in the account earmarked for long-term capital construction plans. The board voted to cancel the architectural contracts and move the funds into the capital budget.

In addition to the new road needed at the elementary school, the funds from the inactive account could be used to pay for several items that were considered for removal from the capital budget requests, Headlee said.