The Bradley County Board of Education discussed construction and renovation projects, and test scores, during its first meeting of the school year Thursday.
Johnny Mull, energy management supervisor for the county school system, gave the board an update on efforts to replace a large fuel tank at Charleston Elementary School with access to a natural gas line.
He recently sought out and received an estimate from Chattanooga Gas, which said running a gas line to the school could cost “approximately $395,354.71 plus or minus 50 percent.”
While he expected that the cost might be high, Mull said he was “really surprised” by the estimate.
Board Chair Vicki Beaty asked if the company had continued tying onto existing gas lines, but Mull said he believed the closest lines were not very close to the school. In fact, he said the bulk of the cost of getting natural gas to the school would likely be having a line run to the school.
Beaty asked if that meant Chattanooga Gas did not think it would be a cost-effective project for the company.
“I don’t know that, but I would assume that,” Mull said.
Board member Chris Turner said he believed the cost should be much less than estimated, and he encouraged Bradley County commissioners to look at the possibility of also having lines run along North Lee Highway near the school because of the area having potential for future development.
Turner stressed the idea of changing the school’s heating system stemmed from a desire to get rid of an “unsafe” system.
“It’s a safety issue as well as a cost-effective issue,” Turner said.
The school currently has a high-capacity propane tank sitting between it and North Lee Highway, Mull said.
Prior to when that discussion began, Beaty recognized the county commissioners in attendance, including Mull, who was recently elected to the office. He will represent the 4th District beginning in September.
Local architect David Brown told the board about progress on the design for a major renovation of the auditorium at Lake Forest Middle School.
Final versions of the design documents are expected to be ready by early September, when Brown said his firm will confer with the school system’s maintenance department on any last-minute design changes that might be needed before the project gets bid out to a contractor.
Angie Gill, the school system’s testing coordinator, presented board members with the results of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests students had taken during the 2013-14 school year.
While she noted the scores were lower than anticipated, she said the entire state was in a “transition year” after the Common Core state standards had been put in place, and before a new test to replace the TCAP had been implemented.
On top of that, Gill said students enrolled in dual enrollment and advanced placement classes are not allowed to take the TCAP end-of-year exams, which she pointed out means the “best and brightest students” were not factored into the county’s test scores for students in the high school grades.
However, Gill said there has been a positive trend in terms of the ACT college entrance exams.
“We brought our scores up in every area,” Gill said.
More TCAP scores from last year are expected to be released by the Tennessee Department of Education next week. Those results will show how individual schools within each of the state’s school systems performed.