County schools to move ahead on WVHS build
Nov 09, 2012 | 1436 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Banner Staff Writer

Bradley County Schools will move forward with design drawings and the bid process for an expansion at Walker Valley High School, following announcement that the system’s hazard mitigation grant has been approved.

This hazard mitigation grant provides funds for construction that meets safe room standards.

The grant will bring $1,032,779 in federal funds to the project, according to business office manager Rick Smith.

“We did receive the grant. The money is coming to Bradley County. It’s time to get started,” Bradley County Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel said during Thursday’s board meeting.

Part of the eight classrooms added to Walker Valley will be able to withstand more than 200 mph winds and the pressure of an updraft, according to McDaniel.

“It would be a place that you would want to be if we ever had another outbreak of tornadoes,” McDaniel said.

The Bradley County Board of Education had already set aside $300,000 toward the project. According to Smith, the local cost for the project is estimated at $344,260.

The board unanimously passed a motion, made by vice-chairwoman Vicki Beaty, to move forward with the project, including expansion of the cafeteria as an option in the bid process.

McDaniel said expanding the cafeteria while adding the eight-pod classroom may save some money on construction costs.

The school system originally submitted three capital projects for the Federal Emergency Management Agency grant. All the projects were accepted, but there was only enough funding to approve one of the projects. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, which is facilitating the grants, gave the Bradley County Board of Education the choice of which project would be funded.

“The board decided it would be in the best interest of our students of Bradley County that we be able to do the Walker Valley grant because the other projects required additional funding from the Commission for us to be able to do the work,” McDaniel said.

Other projects being considered were an elementary school in the Blue Springs area and a new academic building at Lake Forest Middle School.

Also during the meeting:

- The board approved the calendar for the 2013-14 school year. The calendar retains the school’s weeklong fall break. McDaniel said this was the option that parents and teachers preferred.

“This is pretty much the calendar we have used in Bradley County for the past five years,” McDaniel said.

The calendar puts the fall, spring and winter breaks at the end of the nine week grading periods. The first day of school will be Aug. 7

New for next year Race to the Top staff development days will be all-day training instead of the half-day trainings used this year.

- An update on the system’s energy conservation program was given by energy management manager Johnny Mull. The program has saved the system $10 million in energy costs since it was implemented in 1999.

Mull said updating heating and cooling systems at the schools and switching to energy efficient lighting have been the main contributors to this savings. The school system is set to replace heating and cooling systems at Michigan Avenue and Taylor elementary schools and Ocoee Middle School. Bids for the Michigan Avenue and Ocoee Middle projects were approved during Thursday’s meeting. The Taylor project will be rebid.

Angie Lyon of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones and Morris Architects said the bid for Taylor came in higher than their estimates.

- The school system is also exploring new ways of generating revenue through energy savings. One is a program through the Tennessee Valley Authority that pays school systems to be a part of a program to agree to turn off some energy uses if they TVA needs to decrease demand on the power grid.

Board member Christy Critchfield expressed concern about timing of the TVA requests.

Mull reassured the board that the school system reserves the right to not grant the TVA request if complying would be detrimental to students.

Bradley Central High School and Lake Forest Middle School were signed up for this program this week. Details are still being finalized.

Another possibility is allowing companies to rent school roof space to install solar panels for energy collection. Mull has had some interest in this, and is exploring the possibilities.