Most of the items discussed will be included on the next school board agenda. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 2.
A key issue will be ongoing negotiations on the purchase of a 15-acre parcel on North Lee Highway for a new elementary school. Board members had voted some time ago on approval of the site.
Some City Council members had preferred using the Hardwick Field airport site for the new school, once Cleveland’s new jetport opened in the Tasso community. But, a recent analysis compiled by city staff members determined it would cost about $500,000 more for preliminary work at the airport site than it would for the school board’s selection.
Ringstaff said he expects the Hardwick family, who own the property on North Lee Highway, to provide an offer to the school system as early as Monday. Once a price (on the property) has been offered, the school board is expected to continue discussion at its April meeting.
If a consensus is reached on the property, the school board will go to the City Council with a request to purchase.
Even if a site is selected and purchased, it will be some time before a new school can be constructed. The city and county school systems are depending heavily on passage of the Bradley County Commission’s wheel tax referendum in August for capital project funding.
The $32 wheel tax would raise funds for three major school projects in the county, including major renovation at Lake Forest Middle School, expansion at Walker Valley High School and a new school on the south side of the county to replace Blue Springs Elementary which was destroyed by a tornado last April.
The city’s share of the wheel tax money would be just under $11 million, which would be used for the proposed elementary school.
Ringstaff says the city’s elementary school space is at capacity. He pointed out that city enrollment has increased by more than 300 students in the past 18 months, and more than 1,000 students in the prior six years.
Tentative discussion of the new school site will be included on the agenda for the next school board meeting.
Another site committee topic:
n The school board is considering a $400,000 project to provide lighting at all of the athletic fields at Cleveland Middle School. All fields in the city are lighted, except for softball, baseball, football and track at the middle school.
Musco Lighting of Oskaloosa, Iowa, has provided four options on a $400,000 contract for project. There would be annual payments with the amount determined by number of years.
The payoff would be for three, five, seven or 10 years, with the interest rate slightly higher for the higher number of years.
The proposal assumes the first payment is due one year from the contract date. Financial officer Brenda Carson said the school system is nearing the final payoff of another (energy) loan and that payment can be switched to this lighting contract.
This proposal will also be included on the agenda for the April 2 school board meeting.