The Bradley County Board of Education will vote Thursday whether to get its architect involved in determining which projects would meet insurance company requirements to use funds that would have gone toward Blue Springs Elementary School code upgrades.
Since the school has been torn down, the insurance company — Travelers — has said the “law and ordinance funds,” or code upgrade funds, could be used at Lake Forest Middle School, Bradley Central or Goal Academy.
“If you were to go to Goal Academy and construct a classroom, you could not use the entire $287,574 on that project?” asked Chairwoman Vicki Beaty.
Finance director Rick Smith reiterated the money could only go toward code upgrades.
“Really, their intent was that we bring the current Blue Springs up to code,” Smith said.
Smith explained the funds could only be used for code upgrades that were similar to those that would have been needed at Blue Springs Elementary. These would include heating and air-conditioning units, handicapped-accessibility or a sprinkler system. Smith commented that the list from the insurance company of what could qualify was somewhat confusing. He said an architect might be better able to determine what would or would not be considered.
Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel said many options had been explored.
“All of the things that we looked at in the capital outlay (renovations) ... they said no,” McDaniel said.
Whatever is the greatest need for the school system should be where the funding is used, board member Nicholas Lillios said.
“That would be our top priority — Lake Forest Middle School,” Board member Christy Critchfield said.
Lillios said this would be a smaller project than Lake Forest.
Board member Chris Turner said he would like to see the board pick a project where the insurance money could cover the largest amount of work needed to be done.
Board members discussed the possibility of expanding the auditorium or gymnasium at Lake Forest Middle School. Both locations need expansion of the lobby in order to become more handicapped-accessible. Critchfield said the lobby in the auditorium is very small and needs expansion for safety reasons.
McDaniel said he would like to do something that has already been listed to the Bradley Commission as a need. He commented that expansion of the LFMS auditorium had been listed as a need.
Critchfield asked that the board put getting the architect involved on the agenda for Thursday’s voting session.
Expansion of the gymnasium or the auditorium would not give the school system the full amount. The board commented that if the board had the money to build the academic building for Lake Forest it could reclaim the entire amount.
“I think they have been more than generous with what they have done,” Critchfield said.
In order to receive the insurance money, the board must complete the project by the April 27, 2015 deadline.
Also during the work session, the board discussed whether to respond to the Commission’s most recent resolution concerning funding for LFMS. Board members decided to further discuss their opinions and concerns with the resolution at a work session in November before making a formal response to the Commission.
Board member Charlie Rose placed a resolution opposing recent state changes to teacher licensure on the agenda for the board’s voting session. A recent move by the state board of education has linked a teacher’s licensure renewal to Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System scores. These scores are derived from a complex formula based on student test scores and academic growth.