Tom Cate, a partner in the Spring Creek development, invited the board to visit the former Hall Chevrolet location on 25th and Parker streets Wednesday morning to see if it would meet any of the school system’s future needs.
Director of Schools Dr. Rick Denning said the school board is simply looking at the full menu of options. He said it is imperative the board delays any decisions on the ideas until after the new director is hired.
“He or she may have some ideas for restructuring that I haven’t had, don’t know about or whatever,” Denning said.
He made it clear that a pay raise is the school system’s top priority. The next priority is to find enough property for a new elementary school in the northern part of the city.
The committee met with Cate earlier in the month to tour the former American Uniform plant owned by Nelson Bowers. Reuse of the sewing plant could be an example of infill and redevelopment instead of urban sprawl as a method of dealing with expected growth from Volkswagen, Wacker Chemie and Whirlpool.
Cate said he has an interest in seeing the corner of 25th and Parker serving a useful purpose because of its close proximity to Spring Creek Development. Since the last meeting, he said Bowers employed an architect to refine the design of the American Uniform building to show in more detail how it could house city and county planning departments, school offices, an elementary school, wellness center and a swimming pool.
Cate said Bowers also hired a grant writer to search for grants to help remodel the old plant or dealership. He expects to meet with the city and county mayors, Lee University and any other interested parties.
“He needs to talk to all those entities and once we know what we’re talking about, then have a big roundtable discussion of all (the options),” he said.
Cate said the likelihood of receiving grants increases with more participation. If the former Chevrolet dealership could be utilized by the school system’s transportation and technology departments, then it should be included in the overall picture. If its inclusion doesn’t make sense, then it could be severed.
“I know it’s not all school board-related but it’s Bradley County and city related,” he said. “It’s all one big thing.”
n In a separate matter, Denning will recommend to the school board at the November meeting that approximately 21,000 square feet of asbestos floor tile primarily in the East wing of Cleveland High School be replaced over the Christmas holiday. The 9-inch asbestos tiles are cracking, curling and becoming a safety concern.
In at least one classroom, a teacher placed an area rug over the floor.
Denning said the board has the options of abatement or encapsulation. It would cost an estimated $72,362 to abate the asbestos as opposed to $21,962 to encapsulate and lay new flooring over the old tile.
Cleveland City Schools site representative Gene Upshaw said the tile is in good enough condition that it can be encapsulated, “but if we keep delaying it, it’s going to get to the abatement stage where they can’t encapsulate it.”
Denning said he intended to declare replacing the tile an emergency situation in order to solicit bids and still have time to correct the problem before school resumes after Christmas. By declaring an emergency, the school system can avoid advertising for bids. Denning said this will be the second time in 17 years he has declared an emergency.
“We’re not trying to circumvent the law. We’re just trying to say we’ve got something we have to jump on,” he said.