Bradley County Schools is on its way to breaking ground on the future Partnerships in Industry and Education (PIE) Center later this year. Having secured funding for the center last year, …
Bradley County Schools is on its way to breaking ground on the future Partnerships in Industry and Education (PIE) Center later this year.
Having secured funding for the center last year, including $1 million from the state, $12 million in bond funding from Bradley County government and $1.3 million from the Bradley County Board of Education, the school system is currently working to secure lease agreements with businesses as the project team nails down an official schematic design.
Announced by Bradley County Schools in 2017, the PIE Center is a multimillion dollar facility that will serve local businesses and students. Located at the former American Uniform facility at the corner of Parker and 23rd streets, the facility will house the Bradley County Schools career and technical education programs upon its expected opening in late summer 2021.
In his state of the county address, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis he said he would take a particular focus to improving the workforce, naming the PIE Center as his primary target.
In February, it was announced that GOAL Academy would be moving to the PIE Center as well. This was just weeks before Bradley County Schools' secured the building in a $2.2 million sale.
Director of Schools Dr. Linda Cash made rounds at each of the schools to offer students a preview of what’s to come.
Time and equipment from local contractors were donated to help clean out the facility in preparation for public tours of the old uniform factory. GOAL Academy Principal Kyle Page explained during a tour of the PIE Center that it will offer up to 26 career choices. Local students will have the option to take classes in physical therapy, food service, diesel mechanic training, heavy equipment operations and other STEM careers.
As tours ended in the fall, early schematic designs came before the board. At the same time, Cash began searching for a project manager to work with Page and others to represent the interests of Bradley County Schools in talks with contractors working to revamp the building.
Presented at the November board meeting, the revealed design showed entry points marked by weathered red steel to pay homage to the original building.
Architect Kyle Wynnemer said the red steel paired with wayfinding signs will help mark the main industry closest to the entrance helping students quickly find the right parking as they navigate the new facility.
Wynnemer also pointed out solutions to issues with the current building, like the “swamp” at one of the old semi-truck docking stations. Several feet of water typically collects at the end of an angled ramp, creating a small pool of standing water against the brick of the building. However, the design recommends a trench-style drain to capture the water and connect it with the local stormwater system.
At the same meeting, concerns for GOAL Academy students accessing the multipurpose gym were brought to the planning committee’s attention.
Page pointed out there’s no hallway connecting the academy to the leased spaces for businesses, but a hallway does connect those business areas to the gym and Center for Sports Medicine.
Weather said he was worried about students traveling outside and walking around the building to access another key part of the school. Those concerns were heard, but a solution is still in the works.
In December, Corbett Drew, the principal and founder of Cornerstone Program Management LLC, was introduced as the project manager for the PIE Center.
During the December meeting, he said he was eager to find a solution for the gym access issue, but indicated the schematic design has to go through several channels. He said it was unlikely a solution would be brought before the board in January.
That design was still under its own construction during the January meeting, but Dr. Cash said she expects the PIE Center to break ground in a matter of months and to be open for students in fall 2021.
Until then, Bradley County Schools will continue to work with local businesses interested in leasing the facility for educating the future workforce.
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