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County to need new school in next five years

If leaders in Washington County think the school system is in financial straits now, they might not want to see what the next five years have in store.
Members of the Board of Education met last week to discuss the school system’s five-year plan, which includes a list of needs that comes with a multimillion dollar price tag.
Among the items discussed was the possible need for a new K-8 school to be built by 2015.
“In 2000, the estimate was that Washington County needed two new schools immediately – those schools opened in 2008 – and that we needed one more within a five-year period,” said Ron Dykes, director of schools. “We have eight schools currently that are at 90 percent capacity or above. The possibility exists that we are going to be dealing with an overcrowding issue.”
In addition to the millions it would take to build the new facility, Dykes said more funding would be needed to operate the school.
The issue of funding new schools has been a point of contention for Dykes, who has repeatedly reminded county commissioners that the school system has received no new operating money since the two new schools – Grandview and Ridgeview – opened their doors in 2008.
“We’re already operating 14 schools on a budget for 12,” Dykes said. “Unless there were continual operating money annually, there would be no reason to build another new complex because we certainly couldn’t run 15 schools on a budget for 12.”
The five-year facilities’ needs list also includes significant refurbishing at Jonesborough and Boones Creek elementary schools, both of which are 40 years old.
Work there would include painting, floor covering, and ceiling replacement, and would come at a cost of at least $3 million, Dykes said.
Meanwhile, leaders are looking to convert some schools to geothermal systems of heating and cooling, another multimillion dollar project.
Other needs discussed were:
• Refurbishing at Gray and Boones Creek Middle schools;
• Repair/replacement of several school roofs;
• Refurbishing of David Crockett High School’s football stadium;
• Increased seating capacity at Crockett and Daniel Boone High School football stadiums;
• Replacement of track at Crockett;
• HVAC replacements at Crockett and West View schools; and
• Parking lot repair at six schools.
According to Dykes, several of the needs have been on the radar for some time, but were put on the backburner when construction began on Ridgeview and Grandview.
“It’s time now to start planning some kind of revenue source for these projects,” Dykes said. “Some funding body, somewhere, some day is going to have to address these.
“Those are truly the needs. They’re not desires. They are not wishes. They are the basics. They are the needs to maintain the facilities at the quality that we are currently dealing with.”