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Commission hits pause on school roof decision

Phillip Patrick, the school system’s maintenance supervisor, talks over the potential re-roofing project with the county commission.


Staff Writer

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The Washington County Commission tabled a resolution to re-roof Jonesborough Elementary School, but they’ll face the topic sooner rather than later.

At its Monday, March 25 meeting, the commission voted 10-4 to defer the project to the Monday, April 1, called commission meeting, which has been scheduled to discuss the Jonesborough School project. Commissioners Bryan Davenport, Larry England, Phil Carriger and Jodi Jones were opposed and Robbie Tester abstained from the vote.

Commissioners said they hoped Monday’s meeting could offer clarity in regards to the potential re-roofing, but Phillip Patrick, the school system’s maintenance supervisor, said delaying the roof replacement at the elementary school could set the re-roofing back and could take place while school is in session.

“We want to get a contract signed before school lets out so we can start the work on it in the summer. It would be really putting us in a tight spot,” Patrick said when asked if delaying the re-roofing by a month would cause an issue. “We can re-roof structures while school is going on. It’s just not ideal. It makes a lot of noise when you start to remove (material) and replace.”

Some commissioners were concerned that re-roofing the building, which includes both the rectangular and round portion of the school, could be money wasted if the school board were to decide to tear down the round. The school board’s Chairman, Keith Ervin, said at the commission meeting that he wouldn’t support tearing down the round if a new roof is placed on the building, though he was in favor of tearing down the round before the board voted to replace the roof.

“I will not vote to tear a building down if we put a new roof on it,” Ervin said. “I’m a tax payer and I do not want you all to spend a million dollars on a building and think I’m going to tear it down. I will not support that, but I’m only one board member. But it does need a roof.”

While the roof situation was put on hold, the option to purchase the property next to Jonesborough Elementary, the “McCoy property” was extended in a 13-1 vote. Commissioner Kent Harris was opposed while Tester abstained from the vote. This is the eighth extension on the option for the property.

Harris said he felt $777,900 was too much for a property that he said was appraised for less while Commissioner Suzy Williams asked if it would be possible to renegotiate the price. County Attorney Tom Seeley said that negotiating the price would open the property up to potential buyers.

As for the use of the property, Commissioner Jim Wheeler said he felt the property was vital to the students of both Jonesborough Schools.

“This school was built over 40 years ago and the kids at the elementary school have never been able to go outside and play anywhere except for the playground,” Wheeler said. “This is an opportunity to at least hold onto this property and keep it.

“We’re talking about multi-million dollar fields and recreational space at the Boones Creek School. Surely we can at least hold off on deciding what we’re going to do with this property. Vote for this resolution to look at that for these Jonesborough kids because once this property is gone, and they’re still at this school, they will never have a place.”

Though the Jonesborough schools were at the forefront of discussion, the commission also passed a resolution to purchase furniture for $600,000 at the new Boones Creek School. The vote passed 13-1. Harris was opposed while Tester abstained.

“We’re looking to build a school for Jonesborough, we’re looking to put a roof on Jonesborough, we’re looking to see if we can buy property for ballfields at Jonesborough, “Harris said. “Where does new furniture versus using furniture we have rate with these other things? Has there been any thought to using some furniture we already have?”

Tommy Burleson of Burleson Construction Co. said the school system and his team had gone through the furniture at the current Boones Creek schools multiple times and cut down the price by utilizing furniture from those schools. Patrick added that they will be bringing desks and other basic furniture.

“A lot of (what will be used at the new school) is old furniture,” Patrick said. “It  just seems like a shame to put old furniture in a new house.”

While the $600,000 for furniture isn’t included in the money allocated for the school project, the county director of finance and administration, Mitch Meredith, said $1.1 million was originally projected for kitchen equipment and furniture at the new school, but had not been allocated by the commission.

“The $600,000 is a number we’ve known about since this project came to fruition. It’s like any other piece of a capital projects plan. It does require specific approval before you pull the trigger on the contract issued to purchase (the furniture).”

The commission will meet for a workshop and special called meeting on Monday, April 1, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss funding opportunities related to the Jonesborough School project, followed by discussion on the option to re-roof Jonesborough Elementary. The meeting will be held in Courtroom 7 of the Justice Center, located 108 W Jackson Blvd., Jonesborough.