Officials say this new school is needed to address growth and overcrowding concerns, especially at Mayfield Elementary.
The committee originally considered five to six properties in the general growth area of the city, which is to the north from Arnold and Mayfield schools.
Some City Council members had previously met with new Director of Schools Dr. Martin Ringstaff and discussed the possibility the school board night use property already owned by the city in the downtown area for the new school. Committee members are in agreement the new school should be located to the north of the primary municipal area ... in the growth area.
Site committee chair Dr. Murl Dirksen and panel members Tom Cloud and Steve Morgan approved a motion Wednesday to propose that the school board authorize Ringstaff to begin negotiations on one of the two final selections. Both are located to the north.
Cloud emphasized that a priority for the committee is to get a fair price on the favored location.
“In a perfect world, it would be great to use property already owned by the city (for the new school), but we need to do what’s best for the school system,” Morgan said in agreeing with the other two committee members.
“We also need the support of the (Bradley County) Commission and (Cleveland) City Council in our decision,” Ringstaff said. The new school director said an additional concern is to move ahead (as quickly as possible) with plans for a new elementary school.
“We cannot sustain another 85 students at Mayfield Elementary,” Ringstaff added. The increase of 85 students this year increased the school’s enrollment to 507 students and has forced school administrators to utilize three specialty rooms for classrooms.
Another problem is that the school is “landlocked” with no room for expansion.
Dirksen said the school board is being proactive in moving ahead with plans for a new school.
Cloud said the board needs to take steps to not “under-build” when completing conceptual plans for the new school. “We’ve under-built before (at E.L. Ross Elementary),” he said.
Although the board has yet to approve a site (and purchase the property) for the new school, Ringstaff said architects are already proposing conceptual designs.
Dirksen emphasized the site election committee has been working on this issue for about a year, first narrowing property possibilities down to five or six locations. That list is now at two, with the favored property to be recommended to the board Tuesday.
Both options are between 15 and 20 acres in size.
In other business:
n Site selection committee members, and others at Wednesday’s meeting, discussed potential plans for the Little Theater at Cleveland High School.
Paul Ramsey, supervisor of maintenance and transportation, said choir director Shirley Pace has been collecting prices on seating, lights and an audio system.
The school administrators then discussed the limitations of the facility, which seats only 300. “We would not be able to get an entire class (in that space),” said Ramsey.
Dirksen asked, “What else could we do with it? Could it be remodeled?”
School officials discussed the possibilities, including use of the space as a lecture hall, classroom space or a multipurpose room.
Ringstaff said the high school has two priority needs: No. 1 — an auditorium that will seat 2,000 or more, and, No. 2 — a new, or expanded gymnasium. “The gym is small for our school,” he said.
“It sounds like you’re discussing a possible fine arts center, like (the county constructed) at Bradley Central,” Cloud said.
School board chairman Peggy Pesterfield said the original strategy, when the city approved the construction of Cleveland High School, was to build a small theater since the city was planning (in the future) to build a civic auditorium.
“When I was in school, we used the gymnasium for special events,” Morgan said.
“We need to work on what we have, and look at these other needs with a long-term plan,” added Cloud.
Ringstaff said the continued discussion of the theater and future needs for Cleveland High School would be a good exploratory committee topics for the school board. He added he liked some of the ideas visited in Wednesday’s meeting.
n Ramsey handed out a punch list for the completion of Cleveland High School’s new science wing. None of the items are major, mostly dealing with aesthetics, catch basins, sod, draining, a handicapped-accessible ramp and cleaning.
The school system has withheld slightly more than $30,000 for payment to the contractor when the punch list is completed.
Another concern is the placement and location of a new high school sign. Board members are hoping the sign can be in place in time for the Cleveland-Bradley Central football game, which will be televised by ESPN Oct. 21.