Martin Ringstaff, city schools director, said the land was purchased with money the Cleveland City Council approved.
“What we have promised all along is we will be very frugal with taxpayers’ money,” Ringstaff said. “We want to build the best schools possible for everyone, and at the same time, keep in mind today’s economy.”
School board officials unanimously agreed to focus their attention on the Georgetown Road property a month ago. At the time, property costs were an estimated $1.15 million for 19.9 acres of developed land. Hyde Property hiked the price from $1.1 million as part of a trade. The price went up to $1.15 million and Hyde Property gave up its rights to a potential sale to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
According to state reports, Georgetown Road will be widened from two lanes to four. TDOT will have to buy the right of way now owned by the Cleveland City Schools system. Projected costs of the sale range from $50,000 to $100,000.
Included in the final price is Hyde Property’s agreement to level the land. Installation of infrastructure like sewer and communication land lines was included in the final price of the property.
Ringstaff said the school board’s priority now is to find an architect. Requests for Qualifications were set for a noon deadline by Wednesday, April 3.
According to Ringstaff, finding an architect is imperative for the next step.
“Part of the agreement is before the final leveling of the dirt is finished, our architect will ensure the [dirt] is laying right for the playgrounds, parking lot and school buildings,” Ringstaff said. “We have six months from [Wednesday].”
The board is hoping to find an architect within two to 2 1/2 months. This would allow the architect 3 1/2 to four months to work with the land.
According to Ringstaff, the site committee, comprised of school board members Murl Dirksen, Steve Morgan and Peggy Pesterfield, along with Ringstaff, will choose five to seven architects from the RFQ responses.
The next step is a presentation to the school board. Each of the five to seven architects will have 45 minutes to an hour for their presentation. School board members will set aside a day to hear all presentations.
Ringstaff said the presentations will showcase an elementary school which can contain 700 students.
“The core capacity of the building needs to be 700. This does not mean you need to build enough classrooms for 700 students. Classrooms can be added on at a later time,” Ringstaff said. “The core consists of the gym, cafeteria and hallway space. These areas need to be large enough for a school population of 700.”
The school board will have the final say on which architect is chosen for the project. They will work closely with the architect for the duration of construction.
According to Ringstaff, six to seven months will be given to the architect for planning. Grass seed will be used to keep the leveled dirt from shifting.
He said there are still a lot of decisions to be made.
“It is a sense of relief to have the City Council and the city school board on the same page,” Ringstaff said. “I applaud the City Council, on their part, for recognizing there are growth issues and stepping up to the plate.”
Continued Ringstaff, “Cleveland residents should be proud of both parties, the City Council and the city school board.”
According to Ringstaff, the school board is well prepared for the construction process.
“They have been through this a lot. I am the ‘new one.’ I am the one asking a lot of questions and learning as we go,” Ringstaff said.
It is still too early to determine when the elementary school’s construction will be completed.
“In an ideal world, it would be completed in March , and that is only if everything worked perfectly,” Ringstaff said.