By SERINA MARSHALL
Despite the pandemic, the new K-8 Jonesborough school is still on track to open August of 2023, Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest told the Washington County Board of Education at its June 22 workshop.
“Plans are 80-90% complete,” Vest said. “The required proposals are due July 7 in which we will choose a contractor. We had six contractors in pre-bid and will interview the four that submitted their bids.”
Planning for the new school began in August of 2019 and committee members have been able to continue through Zoom meetings throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vest explained that they were looking to design a more modern, functional and cost-efficient school.
“We will have HVAC’s in every classroom,” Vest said. “These are fast to fix, and by dropping the roof, there is less duct work which saves money. There will also be more storage which will make it easier on teachers. I’m excited.”
There will also be a full-service kitchen on property. With an estimated 1,100 students expected to attend the 140,000-square-foot school, the increase in functionality is important to Vest and the design team. The square footage alone has saved nearly $1 million in costs, he said.
“I am happy with the design. Tommy Burleson, Ken Ross and Clark Nexen have been a blessing for the design project,” Vest said. “I am also proud of Bob Browning and Glen Rosenoff. Every element was looked at and they have had a great team approach. Everyone has worked together to get it done on time.”
Board member Keith Ervin voiced his concern for access roads around the school to avoid backup into the street.
“I will be driving some days and there are schools that the car line goes all the way into the road. Parents get there at 2 p.m. to pick up their kids and they just sit there,” Ervin said. “How will this school be different? Will there be entry points?”
This concern was addressed by Vest.
“There will be an access road for cars that can accommodate up to 170 cars,” he said. “There will be four ways in and four ways out, with 11E access and a red light at the North Cherokee intersection.”
This plan and design for the access roads helps to make the flow in and out of the school pick-up and drop-off more efficient, effective and safe, according to Vest.
Board member Annette Buchanan asked about cubbie space for the children.
“Right now the cubbies are in a closet where the teacher can’t see the kids and it is crowded,” Buchanan said. “Will there still be cubbies in the new classrooms?”
Vest responded that there would be open cubbies in every classroom.
Scotty Caroom, President and CEO of Excel Energy Group, Inc. spoke on the LED lighting upgrades that would be installed throughout the building. Caroom said these sources of light will also be cost efficient and bring a modern and contemporary look into the school.
“For Jonesborough, this school will be second to none and top in the region.” Vest said.
Groundbreaking for the new school is planned for August or September of 2021.