Bradley County Schools parents and other concerned community members had their questions answered about Blue Springs Elementary code upgrades insurance money at a Bradley County Board of Education public meeting Tuesday.
The gathering was held at Lake Forest Middle School. It highlighted questions from the audience as to why the $287,000 code upgrades funding could not be used for needed renovations to the middle school. Board members reiterated that the insurance company is looking for new construction or expansion as a qualifying project.
“The main reason I wanted to have this meeting was to let you know that we have not forgotten about Blue Springs,” board member Christy Critchfield said. “I wanted to make sure more than anyone that you all understood about this $287,000.”
Critchfield emphasized this was only the “law and ordinance” or codes upgrades portion of the insurance money. The rest of the insurance money from Blue Springs was being saved for when the school could finally be built.
Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel reiterated that the long-term plan is to have an elementary school to replace Blue Springs Elementary.
The codes upgrade money will only cover portions of the construction that would have been needed for code upgrades at Blue Springs Elementary.
“There are a lot of strings attached to it,” Critchfield said. “I want you to know that the board of education is working very hard to find a project that they will approve.”
Using the funds for expansion of the lobby of the auditorium and gymnasium were discussed.
“We could start those projects ... if we decided to fund that we would need $400,000, but we would still have to get the approval from the engineer at Travelers insurance to tell us what part of that $400,000 is considered a Blue Springs code update,” Critchfield said.
Critchfield said the board would be voting Thursday to decide on getting an architect involved in helping understand what the insurance company is saying will qualify.
“The reason the board is focused on Lake Forest is it is No. 1 on our priority list,” Critchfield said.
She said she would put the money in the bank and hold it for the Blue Springs school if she could.
“As a board we value and appreciate your comments,” chairwoman Vicki Beaty said.
Neal Keller, parent of two BCS students, asked if the fire marshall had any concerns at LFMS that could be addressed with the money.
Board member Troy Weathers said the school is inspected on a yearly basis and any concerned have to be addressed. The school is in compliance with fire marshall requirements
Keller said the fire marshall may also be able to help the board determine a project suited for the codes upgrade money. Critchfield said the fire marshal would be involved at some point in the process.
Parent Melissa Johnson, who has two children attending Bradley County Schools, asked why the funds could not be used at Black Fox or Waterville Community elementary schools where blue Springs students were rezoned to attend.
Critchfield said this specific question had not been asked. However, the insurance company had stated the money would need to go to a “feeder school” from Blue Springs Elementary.
McDaniel said he is not in favor of making the elementary schools larger.
Parent Jared Garrod, who has four students in the school system, asked if an attorney had looked at the insurance agreement.
Critchfield said the county attorney was involved in getting the initial Blue Springs insurance money.
Garrod also questioned staying with the company since there were so many strings attached to the money.
The board said Travelers had already given two extensions on the timeline to use the money, which the were not required to grant.
Audience members felt if representatives from the insurance company come to LFMS and see the school, they might be more willing to release the funds.