The site committee and members of the board met Wednesday to discuss the recent land acquisition, architect RFQs and updated security measures at Blythe-Bower and E.L. Ross Elementary schools.
Architects will have until April 3, 2013, at noon to respond to the city school system’s RFQ, or request for a quote, of their services. The RFQ will be sent to everyone on the Tennessee School Board Association’s sponsored list, said Martin Ringstaff, city schools director.
“What we are doing is choosing who is going to represent us and build what we want,” said Steve Morgan, site committee member.
All applicants must have either previously worked on at least five K-12 schools either completed or under construction.
Committee members agreed quick action is needed during this process. They will choose seven to 10 architects to rank and present. Both the school board and City Council will see the list before presentations by the architects begin.
Ringstaff explained the need for speed in this process.
“Part of the cost of the land included moving the dirt to make it grade-ready. What the contract currently states is 120 days after closing, the dirt will be finished,” Ringstaff said. “We need more time so our architect can be a part of the process. We want to look to extend the time. ... Day one starts the day of closing.”
Committee members expressed their thanks to the City Council for the recent approval of purchase.
“We appreciate their interest in our public schools,” said Peggy Pesterfield, site committee member. “We are very pleased with the land and excited to get started. We cannot wait for it to open and have our dedication.”
Murl Dirksen, site committee chair, said he loves the new piece of property.
Dawn Robinson, board of education member, agreed, “It was sort of miraculous this piece of property came along when it did. Land has a way of turning up when you don’t think it will.”
Paul Ramsey, energy education specialist, presented the plans for updated security measures for both Blythe-Bower and E.L. Ross Elementary schools.
Reconstruction will be completed at Blythe-Bower to allow for a secure main entrance. A wall will be built in the current foyer with a set of double doors leading into the school. All visitors will have to go through the main office to gain entrance to the school. The front corridor currently leads into a school hallway on one side and the main office on another. A set of secure double doors will be built leading into the Head Start and kindergarten hallway. A new corridor will be created within the building to allow continued student traffic once the front corridor is closed off.
Kelly Kiser, principal, said he is in support of the changes.
“This is a change we have been looking at for a while. It will allow us to physically be able to control access to the school,” Kiser said. “It will be a big benefit for us being able to control who goes where.”
Changes will also be made at E.L. Ross to ensure optimal security for students and faculty.
Two sets of double doors currently lead into the school. The second set of double doors will be locked and buzzer controlled by the main office. A door will be placed in the wall between the two double doors leading into the main office. The room currently being used as the technoplaza will become the main office. The current main office will be changed into an office and an SRO office.
Lisa Earby, principal, said she believes the changes will benefit E.L. Ross.
“Even before the Sandy Hook [Elementary School shooting in Connecticut] situation, we have been looking at our cafeteria situation and where the SRO is located,” Earby said. “This will place him near the front of the school, so that is great for us.”