LFMS academic building now top priority
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Feb 15, 2013 | 951 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A new academic building for Lake Forest Middle School is the Bradley County Board of Education’s top priority for capital projects following changes in priorities during Thursday’s voting session.

The revision to the plan passed unanimously.

Updated estimates for the project are being drafted. A 2011 cost estimate put the project at $12 million.

Board member Troy Weathers said the board should ask for funding for studies and tests necessary before construction in order to assure the project is prepared for launch once full funding is made available.

“We can start today, and we’ll be a mile ahead in three years,” Weathers said.

The board listed its second priority as an increase in recurring funding to replace aging computers. According to Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel, some of the school system’s computers are a decade old. The school board will be requesting $75,000 be included in the budget for new computers and technology for each of the next five years.

“This request is absolutely critical to add vitality to the aging infrastructure that we have … not only to replace the aging infrastructure that we have today, but to start to make a list of things that are needed in the future,” board member Chris Turner said.

McDaniel said some of these funds would be used to address needed updates to Internet access to the classrooms.

McDaniel said by 2015 the school will be required to give state-mandated, end-of-year tests on computers through an online platform.

“Our children of today rely on technology in so many ways,” McDaniel said. “It’s a part of their lives, and when they come to school I don’t want to slow them down.”

Chairman Charlie Rose said the school system had recently replaced some computers that were 12 years old.

“We have two immediate needs down here right now that we want to go before the (Bradley) County Commission, and we have three future needs,” Rose said.

He said computers offer an opportunity for teachers to provide individual instruction to students who are at multiple academic levels, despite being in the same grade.

Other requests listed on the board’s priorities include land for a new middle school, construction of an elementary school on the land purchased for the new Blue Springs Elementary school and construction of a new middle school.

These needs are based on school population estimates generated in the BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan.

Board members will meet with the Bradley County education committee on Tuesday to present the updated list of priorities.

Also during the meeting:

- Safe Schools officer Scottie Hernandez also gave an update on school safety. He said the school system has a plan addressing every possible emergency situation. Two-way radios at all of the schools provide a way for teachers and principals to communicate if cellphone reception is lost during a storm. Hernandez said many more safety precautions are taken now than in the past. Ways to further improve safety at schools are also being discussed. Angie Lyon of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones and Morris Architects said the company has been inspecting many of its clients’ schools for safety improvements that can be made architecturally. The inspection is at no cost to the school system. McDaniel said Bradley County Schools will also have this done. Hernandez also completes regular safety inspections of the schools.

- The board heard a report from Rebecca McIntyre of the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation on programs and increased ways those in the community are donating to education.