Architect: Hampton tops capital list
An architect gave Carter County’s school buildings high marks, but noted there’s room for improvement – specifically, an improvement in room.
A preliminary architect’s report to the Carter County Board of Education on the system’s capital needs offered a series of suggestions, with a new middle school for students in the Hampton High School district at the top of the list.
David Brown, architect with Kaatz, Binkley, Jones and Morris from Mount Juliet, Tenn., said he looked at data such as enrollment, student-teacher ratios and school capacities when making recommendations. He said he divided the school system into districts based on the high schools the students would eventually attend.
Brown said the Hampton district was the only area that had two schools in need of extra space: Valley Forge Elementary and Hampton Elementary.
Valley Forge needs more classroom space, while Hampton Elementary needs more space in the core areas, especially the cafeteria, he said.
Brown outlined three options for the school board: One would be to add more classrooms at Valley Forge and rework the core areas used by all students at Hampton; the second option would be to build another kindergarten-through-8 school to relieve the issues at the two other schools.
The third option, which Brown described as his favorite, was to build a new middle school to house grades 5 through 8 for students from Valley Forge, Hampton and Little Milligan Elementaries.
“Combining the students like this takes care of multiple issues at once,” Brown said.
He said the middle school would not have to be large, with a core area to house up to 600 students and classroom space for 400. He said there are currently 350 students in those grades in that district.
“Building the school that way would allow some room for expansion,” Brown said. “Then more classrooms could be added in the future as needed and work up from there.”
Brown estimates the middle school would need to be between 90,000-100,000 square foot at a cost of $125 per square foot plus 8 percent for different fees. The cost estimate is around $13.4 million plus the cost of land. He said around 20 acres of land would be best for the proposed middle school.
The only other schools that were determined to be in need of extra space were Central and Keenburg elementaries. Brown said new classrooms could be useful, but he did not propose any new construction for those areas.
Brown said overall, the county schools were in good shape. He said the structures had been well-maintained to limit the need for any large repairs.
“There are no big-ticket items that are needed,” he said. “There are some minor renovations that are needed. Bathrooms need to be upgrades. There are some security upgrades and energy efficiency upgrades that could be done, but overall the schools have been well taken care of.”
The school board members will now review Brown’s plan and make their own recommendations about what they believe is needed or if they want to move forward with the proposed plan.