Hamilton County Schools presents facility plan to commissioners - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hamilton County Schools presents facility plan to commissioners

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Leaky roofs and cracks are just some of the signs of schools that are crumbling.

The Hamilton County Board of Education says there are several schools in the district that are in desperate need of repairs. Wednesday Dr. Kirk Kelly presented a list of those needs to the county commission.

The comprehensive list totals to about 240 million dollars to repair existing buildings.

"We are not taking care of the buildings we already have; you're not taken care, 210 to 240 million... I don't know first of all how did we even get there?" said Commissioner Warren Mackey.

Justin Witt is the district’s Director of Maintenance and Operations, he said that figure includes every single repair across the district. Immediate repairs would be around 40 million dollars.

Commissioner Joe Graham suggested the district tap into the 60 million dollars the district has in reserve funds.

"The rainy day fund that has been built up in our school system if it's not going to be put in a classroom, it's not doing or students any good sitting in the bank,” Graham said. 

The facility plan is broken up into four sections: new buildings, additions, building needs, and athletic facilities.

At the top of this list is Harrison Elementary, CSLA, and East Hamilton.

Mackey challenged Dr. Kirk Kelly to look into rezoning and combining schools to alleviate some expenses.

"Do their job and put the students where the empty classrooms are!” Warren said.

Dr. Kelly replied, “There are not enough empty classes accommodate what we need in these additions."

Doctor Kelly said rezoning isn't the answer and could create new problems.

Commissioner Graham says he's willing to work with the district on a plan, but ultimately it's up to the school board.

"They need to step up here and make these tough decisions which right now looks like, especially from the comments in their meetings and the media, it looks like they're leaning on us to make these decisions for them," said Graham.

Next month the county commissioners and the school board will hold a joint meeting to discuss more options on funding and how to address immediate needs. 

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