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School board considers $115M in projects

Washington County Board of Education members are considering a facilities master plan that includes eight major projects over an eight-year period at a total cost of $95-$115 million.
During a called meeting July 25, members of both city and county school boards and commissions, in addition to both mayors and the city manager, heard recommendations from consultant Eric Bosman, of Kimley-Horn and Associates in Atlanta, and Johnson City architect Tony Street.
In an effort to move all county elementary schools to K-8 campuses with adequate capacity through 2021, construction of two new schools is recommended to combine the elementary and middle schools in Boones Creek and Jonesborough.
While Bosman said the Jonesborough sites are large enough to allow an expansion, a new piece of property will have to be acquired for the new Boones Creek school.
Bosman suggested the Oak Grove Area for the Boones Creek facility in order to place it closest to the students. “I would not recommend south of I-26 because annexation is most likely to happen there,” he said.
Acquiring 25-40 acres of buildable land in north Washington County is the first step of the proposed action plan, followed by the construction of the two new schools.
“We’re looking at 2016 for the Boones Creek replacement and 2018 for the Jonesborough replacement,” Bosman said.
Projected occupancy in both schools would be between 94-96 percent. “You don’t want to be at 100 percent because it offers no flexibility,” he added.
The next two priorities involve athletic and recreation sites. Improvements to the fields, tracks, stadiums and parking sites are proposed for Daniel Boone and David Crockett high schools.
In addition, new athletic/recreation sites on the northwest and southwest ends of the county could be shared by the K-8 campuses. The 10-15-acre sites would include a field, track, and space for baseball and softball. “The K-8 campuses would share four high-quality facilities,” Bosman said.
Construction of a 14,000-square-foot technology center on a location to be determined, and an expansion of the transportation/maintenance center are recommended as the fourth master plan priority.
Addressing major maintenance items and renovations at the remaining K-8 schools is the final step of the action plan.
Street said the most potential growth for Johnson City is off of Boones Creek Road. “This is why you’re seeing us want to put the new facilities in the suggested sites; they have the least interference to the city,” he said.
Another meeting will be scheduled for final recommendations. “I would like to challenge both mayors and both school systems to work together,” BOE Chair Clarence Mabe said.