Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland appointed four City Council members to an ad hoc education committee earlier this week, to study funding possibilities for the new elementary school on Georgetown Road.
Rowland said after seeing the results of a temporary committee focused on animal control, “I appointed a similar ad hoc study committee this week to study and make funding recommendations for the new proposed elementary school on Georgetown Road.”
The mayor said smaller groups often work better outside the setting of a formal Council meeting. A meeting date has not been set.
“I appointed councilmen George Poe, Dale Hughes, Charlie McKenzie and Vice Mayor Avery Johnson to work with City Manager Janice Casteel to explore all funding options,” he said. “I charged this committee to seek out all options and to move as rapidly as possible because time is of the essence. We need to finalize plans for the much-needed elementary school to meet our community's growth.”
The ad hoc committee will make recommendations to the full Cleveland City Council, which will make the final decision on the funding options.
The seven members of the full Council have discussed new school construction for at least a year, but earnest discussion began Aug. 13 when Cleveland City Schools Director Dr. Martin Ringstaff presented them a school design for 700 students costing $18.1 million or $140 per square foot.
Ringstaff returned two weeks later with a scaled-down version that would accommodate 560 students at a cost of $16.4 million. The new design reduced the total gross area from 116,228 square feet to 104,594 square feet by eliminating one wing of the school containing a science lab and eight classrooms.
The core areas such as the cafeteria would accommodate 700 students. The wing eliminated in the revised drawing could be added later as the student population continues to grow.
The school site is on 20 acres on the east bank of Candies Creek on Georgetown Road. Grade work is finished and “pad ready.”
Growing student enrollment, particularly in E.L. Ross and Yates Primary schools, is pressuring the city system for additional classroom space.
Bradley County Schools also faces the same problem of funding construction, but is not expected to borrow money until fiscal year 2016-17. When that happens, the city will receive one-third of the proceeds.