By MARINA WATERS
The Jonesborough School K-8 project looks to be a K-4 project — for now.
During the Washington County Board of Education’s Thursday, April 5 meeting, school board member Mary Beth Dellinger made the motion for a new design option, “Scheme 4”, which is essentially the Scheme 2 plan to tear down the round portion of the current Jonesborough Elementary School building and make add-ons. However, Scheme 4 would leave out the upper right and middle wings on the design plan in order to cut costs.
In a 5-4 vote, board members Annette Buchanan, Dellinger, Keith Ervin, David Hammond and Phillip McLain were in favor while Todd Ganger, Jack Leonard, Clarence Mabe and Mike Masters were opposed.
“About a month ago, I was kind of brainstorming and thinking, ‘I don’t want to give up on Jonesborough. I want to try to get something that’s a little bit for everybody,’” Dellinger said. “I called (Architect Tony Street) and we kind of got together.
What we have talked about is we have $20,750,000 to deal with. We thought, ‘Where could we get to where we need to be?’ We felt like this was a good plan.”
The plan, which Street said he’s guessing would “even the board” of the $20,750,000 set aside for the project, would house a maximum of 660 students, meaning the school would be a K-4 school for the time being.
Dellinger said fifth through eighth grade students would, in this plan, attend Jonesborough Middle School until the board could put up the money to build the middle and top right wings, bringing the building to a full K-8. She said that money could be raised through selling some of the system’s buildings such as the Boones Creek properties.
For some, however, the design raised other facility concerns.
Mabe reminded the board that the roof at Jonesborough Elementary and at Jonesborough Middle both needed a new roof. The school district’s maintenance supervisor, Phillip Patrick, said the roofs at both schools, should those buildings be attained by the district, would need to be roofed in a year. Patrick said it would cost around $510,000 to reroof the middle school. A new roof at the elementary school was estimated to cost around $730,000 at last month’s meeting.
“Someone asked why that is not planned for; when we came up with the schemes to build a new Jonesborough and new Boones Creek,” Patrick said, “we were not going to keep Boones Creek Elementary or Jonesborough Elementary. So that was never figured in the Washington County budget.”
Dellinger added that should there be money left over from the Scheme 4 plan, those dollars could go towards improving the plumbing at Jonesborough Middle School. Meanwhile, Ganger voiced a concern for the remaining Jonesborough Middle School building.
“Where are you going to get the money to fix the middle school? We’re already having to use extra money,” Ganger said. “Basically, you’re not worried about that. This board has to worry about that. All we’re doing is spending more and more money and we don’t even have the money to do anything now.”
Street said the Scheme 4 plan would include a new gym, kitchen and cafeteria, locker rooms and administrative area.
He also said the entire project, including the two wings to be added during the second phase of the Scheme 4 plan, still leaves the board $6 million out of budget.
For some, a phased school project was a solution that had worked in other Washington County School projects such as the construction of Lamar School.
“Our school system has built other schools in phases and I don’t understand why it wouldn’t work here,” Buchanan said. “We’ve had children in two different school buildings at one time. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it evolve, they waited a year and moved more students in. It worked.”
Dellinger also said the plan was a solution to the McCoy property discussion; the property, which sits adjacent to Jonesborough Elementary School, once purchased by the county, could provide a space for athletic fields as well as a road leading from the new school to the Old Jonesborough Highway.
At the county’s Health, Education and Welfare meeting earlier that day, the Washington County Mayor and the Washington County Commission expressed hesitation on purchasing that land until the board had a plan for the project.
“I’m really concerned that if we don’t get something in a plan, were are going to lose the opportunity to have the McCoy property,” Dellinger said. “(Street) had even designed a really nice road going out to the old Highway. We would lose that. We would lose that parking area. We mainly heard from the county commission that it’s mainly going to be just for ballfields, but no, there are a lot of other things that are necessary in purchasing the McCoy property. I feel like we need to get something in line tonight.”
Meanwhile, Hammond said he wanted a commitment that the K-8 project would come to completion and not remain at a reduced size.
“I want a commitment that it will be finished,” Hammond said. “I don’t want to go three, four or five years because then you’re looking at escalating construction costs, you’re looking at a whole new leadership. I would like some type of commitment.”
The Scheme 4 plan will be presented at the commission’s Health Education and Welfare Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 3 at 1 p.m. in the first floor conference room of Jonesborough’s Historic Courthouse.