Money pledged to gym, school
by DELANEY WALKER Banner Staff Writer
Jan 24, 2014 | 1497 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cleveland Board of Education made a sign of good faith to the city concerning proposed construction projects in a special called meeting Thursday morning.

Board members unanimously agreed to allocate funds received from Bradley County toward the new Cleveland High gym and elementary school off Georgetown Road.

Student enrollment numbers and an understanding between the county and city dictate every $2 raised [through bond issues] for the county schools means an additional $1 raised for the city schools.

The money would go to the city for the “debt service” incurred through the two projects.

Director of City Schools Dr. Martin Ringstaff said the act was a good-faith effort on behalf of the Cleveland City School Board to Cleveland City Schools. Money received from Bradley County for the schools can only be used in capital needs projects. Plans for the rebuilding of Lake Forest Middle School are still two years off.

“We are not being greedy by any stretch of the imagination. We can no longer wait on the elementary school, and honestly, the gymnasium needs to be taken care of now,” Ringstaff said. “It is just unacceptable for the students of Cleveland ... to be in overcrowded schools.”

Board members stayed after the adjournment of the meeting to hear Upland Design Group present the leading architectural space program drafts for the new Cleveland High gymnasium to the site committee.

The architectural firm spent two days in talks with parents, teachers, administrators and coaches to discuss the new building’s needs. These needs were then assimilated into the proposals.

Two draft options dominated the presentation and subsequent conversation. Draft option 1 has a predicted total gross area of 58,380 square feet. The projected price tag for the design and construction is $12,777,300.

Draft option 2 measures out at a total gross area of 42,090 square feet. The total estimated project cost is $9,580,650.

The major difference between the two drafts is the size of the gym. Draft option 1 has a 26,000-square-foot gym capable of seating 3,000 people. The Raider Dome is 15,400 square feet on the main floor and seats 1,500. This would double the number of seats available and the square footage by 10,600.

The increased space would fit three basketball courts running perpendicular across the main basketball court when the roll-out bleachers are retracted. Coaches expressed an interest in the larger space for tournaments, clinics and practices.

Athletic Director Eric Phillips suggested revenue generated through the events could supplement the various sports’ funding.

Draft option 2 has a 16,000-square-foot gym with seating for 1,800 people. The gym’s space would be 200 more square feet than the Raider Dome. Principal Autumn O’Bryan said draft option 2 does not offer much room for growth. According to O’Bryan, a low seating capacity saw basketball fans turned away four times during the 2012-13 season.

Staff spaces take up 2,340 square feet in both options. Rooms within these spaces include eight wellness offices, two staff restrooms, two coaches’ offices, two coaches’ restrooms and two meeting rooms. Draft option 1 places the staff rooms within the new interior spaces. Draft option 2 utilizes a portion of the 8,500 square feet under the Betsy Vines Theater and gym lobby currently used for the team and wellness locker rooms.

A final difference is the amount of area reserved for support spaces. Both options include 1,070 square feet for an elevator, an elevator machine room, two sets of stairs, a training room and a laundry room. Draft option 1 also includes 1,500 square feet for a community room with a kitchenette.

Coaches said a community room could be used for a variety of functions, from athletes’ collegiate signing days and athletic study hall to pre-event functions and a place for teams to watch game films.

School board members present for the site committee meeting expressed hesitance in going with either project. Draft option 1 comes with a more than $12 million price tag. Draft option 2 does not offer much in terms of growth.

Upland architect Brian Templeton suggested two additional options. School board members requested the firm draw up a visual of each draft for the Feb. 10 school board meeting. Board members will decide on the best option before a presentation on the drafts are made to the Cleveland City Council.

Upland reminded the school board the drafts discussed are in the early stages of the process. All of the items listed were based on expressed needs. The project is expected to take about 15 months from design to completion.

Board member Dawn Robinson placed the ball in the taxpayers’ court. She said it came down to what the citizens of Cleveland would be willing to finance. She reminded the board how the city rose to the occasion to pay for the science wing more than three years ago.

Phillips expressed an interest in the larger gym. However, he explained it would be more beneficial for the school to ensure the locker rooms, wellness instructional spaces, staff spaces and support spaces were seen to first.

O’Bryan said the students, teachers and administrators would work with whatever was built.

“Our people are going to use it no matter what,” O’Bryan said, before adding the school has demands for space it cannot currently meet.