By MARINA WATERS
Numerous design plans for the Jonesborough School project have been brought before the Washington County Board of Education throughout the past year and a half. But the Monday, July 9, meeting offered two more options.
The board opted to put off a decision on the school’s design until next month in a split 5-4 vote after the project’s architect, Tony Street, presented two plans within the $20,750,000 budget allotted by the Washington County Commission.
The first presented plan, Scheme 5, includes additions and renovations to the current Jonesborough Elementary School building and would involve demolishing the round portion of the building. The total cost would be $17,451,000. However, the two wings drawn in place of the round part of the building in previous design plans would be left out in Scheme 5, which cuts costs, but also reduces the size of the school.
Interim Director of Schools Bill Flanary said Jonesborough Elementary School has an enrollment of 540 kids and Jonesborough Middle School has 400, leaving a Jonesborough K-8 school at 940 kids. Scheme 5’s capacity sets at 675 kids.
That means, as the board and Street pointed out, around 265 kids would have to be redistricted according to this plan.
“One of the keys to this … there would have to be eight to 10 classrooms relocated into other existing spaces in the county,” Street said. “There’s some space, I think, at South Central, some at West View and Lamar.
“This is an effort where something’s got to give. We’ve either got to reduce quality or we have to reduce quantity and this is an example of making the school smaller, yet maintaining it as a K-8 and utilizing the existent space you already have (at other schools) and isn’t being used.”
Street added that there was available space to build future classrooms in Scheme 5 and could be added on when funds became available.
Then there was Scheme 6, which involves additions and renovations to the current Jonesborough Middle School building.
The plan is similar to the Scheme 3 plan involving the middle school, but places the new area of the school on the left side of the current building rather than farther back on the property towards the football field, which was a previous concern for some board members. Street also said the Scheme 6 plan includes two entrances, one for buses and one for cars in an effort to keep away from Highway traffic on 11-E.
When asked what renovations would be done in the Scheme 6 plan, Street said the project would include “heavy renovations” throughout the school.
“When you start tearing doors and frames out and start tearing lockers out, redoing floors, ceilings and the lighting and totally redoing the heating and air conditioning and reproofing the building, that’s a heavy renovation.”
According to Street’s figures, the Scheme 6 plan would include 26,000 square feet more than the Scheme 5 plan. But even then, some board members had space concerns when it came to Scheme 6’s cafeteria space.
“My concern is we’re going to go from feeding 400 students to feeding 540,” board member Phillip McLain said. “These are K-8 students we’re talking about. I think we need to know what a reasonable lunch schedule would be without enlarging the cafeteria any more than 500 square feet and with (adding) more than double the number of students who go through there. I don’t think you can do it unless you’ve got a lot more space. I hate to be the devil’s advocate on this, but that concerns me.”
Street said the cafeteria would be enlarged by 500 feet and would claim the space in which the current entrance is located with the new entrance on the opposite side of the school.
Other board members felt the cafeteria — which Street reminded the board was originally designed for high school students — would be an adequate size.
“They’re feeding the high schools just fine and those cafeterias are not that big,” School board member Todd Ganger said. “It’s no different from if we had to redistrict; now you’re loading up those schools, Lamar and Grandview, and it’s going to cause the same problem there in the cafeteria. So this can be done.”
McLain asked that Flanary meet with food services to see if Scheme 6’s cafeteria would be feasible for the number of students. In the meantime, some board members said they wanted more time to look over the plans and get feedback from community members.
“Just getting this tonight and looking at it,” board member Mary Beth Dellinger said. “I’d really like to have a little bit more time before we vote. I’d like to at least give it a month to gage people in the community and see what they think.”
The next board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington County Department of Education’s Central Office located at 405 W College Street, Jonesborough.
Next month’s meeting will also serve as the school board’s final meeting before those who are reelected or elected to the District 1 and District 3 spots take their place as a part of the board.