To reduce or not to reduce; that was the big question buzzing throughout Thursday night’s called Board of Education meeting to discuss the plan for the new Boones Creek K-8 school.
Architect Tony Street presented the board with several ways to reduce the construction plan, but no other option sparked as much discussion as the possible reduction of the number of classrooms in the plan.
The presented layout is estimated to accommodate 1,100 students before classroom cuts. The school will accommodate K-8 students from both Boones Creek Elementary and Boones Creek Middle schools, but a possible influx of additional students was also on everyone’s mind.
Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton mentioned that building the school around different neighborhoods could draw new students in. However, board member Keith Ervin expressed the idea that students currently enrolled in the county might not want to change schools.
“I think you’re always gonna have that when you build a new school,” Halliburton said. “Change for a community—that always occurs. But once people settle in, they’re happy with the new facilities, they use that word of mouth. We’re offering a quality program. It will attract people there.”
This new-school attraction would require room for growth within the K-8 school, which is a main concern for board member Phillip McLain.
“That’s what worries me about reducing classrooms in this new school,” McLain said. “If you do what you talked about doing with some of these neighborhoods, I don’t know how we’d get away with less classrooms. It worries me, it really does.”
In Street’s proposed plan, reducing just two classrooms would save $195,000 while reducing as many as eight would save $780,000. But if the school needed to add a classroom at a later time other than when the rest of the building is constructed, it would add 40 percent to the cost to build the classrooms.
Classrooms weren’t the only parts of the constructional plan that could be removed; the presented layout included an auxiliary gym, that if cut, would save $400,000.
“I feel like we need to not build it so big,” board member Keith Ervin said. “I mean, we’re leaving a school that’s got a baseball field and a softball field. It don’t have an auxiliary gym—this a K8. I don’t even have an auxiliary gym at Crockett, and I need one there worse than I do anywhere. We’ve got other issues that need to be took care of if we’re gonna build it. This thing’s fixing to be 300 plus kids bigger than what we’ve got.”
Board member Clarence Mabe made a motion to accept the plan as is and without any cuts, but not until he shared his perspective in response to the auxiliary gym discussion.
“I helped them coach for two weeks. And it’s a problem,” Mabe said. “And it’s gonna be worse of a problem. Why not do it right to start with? Let’s don’t cut it before we even know what it is.”
The plan gained approval from the board, but that’s not to say the layout won’t undergo any changes.
“We are going to have to make this thing fit the amount of dollars that are there for us to do the project with,” McLain said. “While we may vote on this at this time, it still may change in the future.”