Two renovation projects that have been in the works within the Bradley County Schools system have recently been completed, and the county’s school board created an ad hoc committee that will partner with the Bradley County Commission to address a concern around a particular school’s property.
During Thursday night’s meeting of the Bradley County Board of Education, Angie Lyon of architectural firm Kaatz, Binkley, Jones, and Morris said projects to add onto Walker Valley High School and to repair the roof at Prospect Elementary School have recently been finished.
She said an eight-classroom expansion, as well as an addition to the school’s cafeteria, were both finished and now await inspections.
County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel said he was pleased to hear the project is close to being complete.
Walker Valley Principial Danny Coggin was invited to speak, and his sentiment was the same. He added he was satisfied with how Tri-Con Construction had worked around school hours so the sound of heavy machinery would not disturb students.
Coggin said the new addition will allow teachers to have to share classrooms with less frequency and have a dedicated computer lab again, and the cafeteria’s addition will allow more students to use it at once.
“It really looks good,” he said. “Kids keep going, ‘When do we get in?’”
McDaniel said the project was a good example of a time when the school board “found money” for a necessary project. It was paid for in part by applying for a grant from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, which also allowed for it to be built with features like storm-resistant windows and a heavily reinforced “safe room” to be used in situations like tornadoes.
Lyon said Prospect’s roof repair project was also complete. However, a project to do repairs and renovate the auditorium area at Lake Forest Middle School is still ongoing. Though her firm had completed some preliminary plans, they were still waiting for budget numbers from a contracter. She said more information on Lake Forest’s progress would be given at the school board’s April meeting.
County Schools employee Johnny Mull also gave the board an update on the possibility of having a natural gas line run to Charleston Elementary School. However, he said he was still waiting for estimates on how much such a project would cost.
Bradley County Commissioners Terry Caywood and Ed Elkins then asked the board to consider a matter they believed to be of urgent concern.
Caywood showed photos of the traffic backups he said happen every day around Hopewell Elementary School. He said people picking up their children from school routinely create a line of traffic extending from the school driveway and onto smaller roads before backing up traffic on Highway 60.
Because the county is in discussions with the Tennessee Department of Transportation over a possible widening of Highway 60, Caywood said the school board should consider addressing the matter of traffic at the school. He said a request for such a consideration in during TDOT’s road design process would need to come from the county school board.
Elkins said a solution the school board could consider would be to purchase a strip of land adjoining the school property that is owned by Volunteer Energy. The land could potentially be used to widen an exit from the school and be added to TDOT’s plans.
After some additional discussion, the board voted to create an ad hoc committee which would have members of both the school board and the county commission working together to create plan to submit to TDOT.
School Board Chair Vicki Beaty appointed Troy Weathers and Chris Turner to the committee, and said she would be asking County Commission Chair Louie Alford to appoint two commissioners.