Superintendent lays out top six building projects - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Superintendent lays out top six building projects

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Hamilton County School Superintendent Rick Smith is getting the ball rolling on facility improvements and new construction.

On Tuesday evening, he presented his top six projects to the school board's Facilities Committee. Several factors were at play.

"We've got some pressures because of growth," he said. "We've got some very old facilities that need to be replaced."

For an example of the system's aged schools, one need look no further than his top two priorities: expansion at Wolftever Creek Elementary, and closing and replacing Falling Water Elementary and Ganns Middle Valley Elementary with one new school.

"For me, 102 year old Falling Water. Great school, great little old school in a very strong community." explained Smith. "Ganns: 77 years old, now. It's probably time to do that project."

"We certainly need to get on with the program of building schools," added School Board Member Dr. Greg Martin. Representing District 3 from Hixson, he prepared a list of things wrong with Ganns; problems that would be solved by new construction. "We have over 150 children that, everyday, are educated in mobile units, portable units," he said, "and just have great infrastructure needs there."

Dr. Martin added, closing the two old buildings, Ganns having gone up about the same time as the Chickamauga Lock, could provide savings and safety.

"I'm optimistic and hopeful that the community will see the worth of putting our resources in the children," he said.

The surprise may have been CSLA's position on the list. Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts has been scheduled for replacement since the late 90's, but has yet to make the final cut. Parents and teachers have fought for a new building, but on the Superintendent's list, it falls after an addition at Sale Creek and just before a new middle school at East Hamilton. That is where the debate will come between commissioners, board members, and the public.

"Certainly there'd be a lot of debate and a lot of good conversation," said Smith, but I think you could do all of these and justify them."

The superintendent says the large projects will take some time, perhaps years. For instance, if the Ganns project were approved today, it could be ready to open by August 2016.

He asked the board members to request a meeting with the Hamilton County Commission's Education Committee and hopes to have a plan in place to move forward in the next three to four months.

HAMILTON COUNTY

BOARD OF EDUCATION

FACILITIES COMMITTEE

BUILDINGS/ADDITIONS

1. Wolftever Creek Elementary: Addition - $4 million

2. Ganns Middle Valley Elementary & Falling Water Elementary: Combine in new building - $25 million.

3. Nolan Elementary: Addition 12-14 classrooms - $4 million.

4. Sale Creek Middle/High: Addition - $20 million.

5. CSLA: Replace - $40 million.

6. East Hamilton: New middle school - $40 million.

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