Commission approves bid for new Ooltewah Elementary - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Commission approves bid for new Ooltewah Elementary

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - As Hamilton County Commissioners try to hammerout next year's budget, they are also thinking about the construction of a newschool. Thursday morning they approved a more than $21 million bid for a newOoltewah Elementary School.

"We're here now asking for permission approval," said HamiltonCounty School Board Assistant Superintendent Gary Waters.

After a stamp of approval from the school board, Waters asked the CountyCommission to sign off on the lowest bid to build the new Ooltewah ElementarySchool.

"I would recommend that we move on this," said Commission TimBoyd.

Every commissioner voted yes.

Hickory Construction, Inc., a company from Alcoa, TN gets the job.

The company recently built the Communications Complex for the Air NationalGuard off Bonny Oaks, but this would be its biggest school project to date.

The new school will go on a 33-acre tract of land not far from the highschool, just off Ooltewah-Georgetown Road. 

"It's an overcrowding issue. We are just out of space, classroomspace," says Waters.

Waters says to get the ball rolling, and get that needed space sooner thanlater, built in to the $21 million contract is an additional $545,000 incentiveto finish the project a year early.

"It would require early completion by August first of 2013, which wouldallow us to open for the '13, '14 school year," says Waters.

If that does not happen, Hickory forfeits the incentive money.

"Hopefully that will speed up the process," says Brenda Downey.

Downey knows all too well the growing pains of the existing elementaryschool.

"We don't have a gym," she says.

A book keeper for 15 years with the school system, Downey has spent the pastfour at Ooltewah Elementary.

The school was built back in 1957 and she says it is time to move on, sayingshe and the rest of the staff are looking forward to the new facility.

"It's just a great little school and we just want to take it to a newand better site," says Downey.

The new Ooltewah Elementary will be big enough to house 1,100 students butis projected to open with an enrollment of around 750.

With recent rezoning, the 750 number includes students from BirchwoodElementary, which is set to close.

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