By MARINA WATERS
The plans for the new Boones Creek School have become more of a reality—but that’s not to say Washington County is ready to break ground just yet.
Architect Tony Street and Tommy Burleson from Burleson Construction presented new design options for the Boones Creek K-8 to the Washington County Board of Education on Feb. 2. A motion to approve the 80 percent design phase for the Boones Creek school and for Street to start working on the 40 percent design phase for Jonesborough K-8 was passed unanimously by the school board. However, cutbacks were also discussed in an effort to lower the overall cost for the Boones Creek school.
Burleson and Street said they are $1.9 million over the amount currently set aside by the Washington County Commission; but they came equipped with areas from which the project’s cost could be lessened.
The construction cutback options range from replacing the metal roof with what Street referred to as a low-slope roof, replacing only the metal roof on the cafeteria and auxiliary gym with a low-slope roof, deleting the auxiliary gym or deleting classrooms.
Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge took part in the meeting and provided the board with the figures approved for the school projects by the county commission. The numbers were also recently presented again at the commission’s Jan. 23 meeting. Eldridge reported that $26.8 million is the proposed cost for the Boones Creek school. He also reminded the board of the cap on the funds allocated for each school project.
“We’re using all of the money (allocated for the project),” Eldridge said. “There is no more money available from the tax increase. As a matter of fact, what we have done is we have managed to put about 15 pounds of flour in a 10 pound sack. This is one of those rare opportunities where the taxpayers are going to get more than what they expected they would get because instead of doing a new K-8 and two remodels, there will be two new K-8s and an academic magnet. This is a win for the students and for the school system. This is a win for the taxpayers.”
However, school board member Keith Ervin said he felt the cost for the Boones Creek School might not be comparable to the cost of existing schools like Ridgeview and Grandview.
“To build Ridgeview and Grandview we spent—just rough figures—$28,000 a child at a 700-kid school,” Ervin said. “We’re fixing to spend, for an 1100-kid school, less than $22,000 a child.”
Eldridge mentioned the total costs for Ridgeview and Grandview also included sport facilities while the cost for the new Boones Creek School cost currently does not include the amount of the proposed sports complex. The complex was not figured into Street and Burleson’s presentation and is estimated at approximately $5 million.
Eldridge said by the end of the project the new Boones Creek School will cost over $30 million, but he also mentioned that once the partial design work for the two schools are approved—an 80 percent design phase for Boones Creek and a start on the 40 percent design phase for Jonesborough—it would be possible to consider moving funds between the two projects if necessary.
“By the time you get to the 40 percent design stage on the Jonesborough project, you’re going to know if you have any additional budget flexibility that could be allocated to this project before you have to make a decision to permanently delete anything,” Eldridge said. “What it may allow you to find out is some of these add alternates can actually be added back in to the contract because of the ability to move some money.”
The board also unanimously passed the motion to approve the 2017-2018 school calendar. After voting down the original calendar option presented to the board during the Jan. 5 meeting, the calendar committee met twice to create a new option for teachers to consider, in addition to the original. The calendar most recently drafted by the committee won out. The calendar has an Aug. 7 start date and a six-day fall break.