City schools seek $367k for band room, classrooms
Published 9:15 am Saturday, June 27, 2015
The Elizabethton City School Board unanimously approved the funds for construction of Elizabethton High School’s music room and additional classrooms at a called school board meeting Friday morning.
If all paperwork following the board’s ruling is approved quickly, construction could begin as early as July 10, Elizabethton City Schools Superintendent Corey Gardenhour said.
However, if the board wants to avoid a significant hit to its general fund, they will still need to come up with $367,160.
Goins Rash Cain Construction Services was awarded the contracts for work associated with demolition, site work, concrete, masonry, metals, wood, plastics, doors, windows, finishes, mechanical, electrical as well as thermal and moisture protection.
The 14 construction-related agenda items that were approved totaled $1,494,000, which is under the allocated $1.5 million budget for the project.
Projects outside the scope of construction services include acoustical components for the band and ensemble classrooms totalling $55,252, renovation of the existing band room totalling $145,120, direct purchase of HVAC equipment and the architect and engineer fee.
The money for the HVAC equipment totalling $69,288 and the architect fee totalling $97,500 was approved during the meeting and are included in the overall deficit total.
The school board’s general fund balance is healthy enough to absorb the overage, but donations and fundraisers are the preferred method of obtaining the money, Gardenhour said.
“We are going to be fundraising for this project,” Gardenhour said. “We are going to get this done.”
Board member Susan Peters voiced some of her concerns about what has happened so far with the project.
“I don’t believe you should agree to buy a house and then figure out how you are going to pay for the mortgage,” Peters said. “I’m afraid that’s what’s been done here.”
Safety concerns were raised by board member Phil Isaacs, who was leery of the project interfering when school comes back into session.
“Even though we’ve blocked off more of the parking lot than I would have preferred, it’s been a safe place,” Gardenhour said.
Gardenhour also plans to work on parking solutions for when students and faculty return in August.
“We will definitely start on the band room and outside projects first,” Gardenhour said. “Then we will move inside.”
Recent changes to the plans for the project included a band room reduction from 70 square feet to 65 square feet as well as the addition of four classrooms, Gardenhour said.
Board member Tyler Fleming asked if there was a deadline for generating enough funds to go back to the original plan.
Once the project is about 20 percent complete, Gardenhour said it wouldn’t be feasible to go back to the original plan.
“We can change the scope of the project by completing a change order,” Gardenhour said. “But, that will require donations at this point.”
With the best interest of students in mind, the board was right in asking for a larger project to begin with, Board member Grover May said.
“It’s a matter of balancing those values,” he said. “The vision that we share and the vision that city councilmen share has merged over the years.”
Talk of donations spurred conversation about how this is an opportunity for the community to come together.
“We need the help of the public at this point in order to make this a reality,” Gardenhour said. “It’s about being progressive and being positive.”
While the additional costs are a stretch on the city’s budget, all of the board members agreed that the benefit to the students makes it worth it.
“We have to provide alternatives to make sure that our students have something positive to be involved in,” Gardenhour said. “The Betsy Band is absolutely a positive alternative for our students to get involved in. It builds character in children.”
Gardenhour pointed out that EHS Band Director Perry Elliott has helped tremendously with bringing the community together through the band’s accomplishments.
“I think he has made his mark and is an integral part of Elizabethton and in the hearts of our kids and band parents,” Gardenhour said.
Having used the auditorium as a classroom for many years, Elliott requested that the board and the community keep in mind one point.
“We’re finally getting a music facility,” Elliott said. “Saying we are getting a new music facility implies that we had one to begin with.”
While he would have preferred the plan for a larger facility, Elliott was excited to see the board take the next step in getting this project off the ground. Many other teachers experience lack of space in which to effectively educate students, Elliott said.
“You’re dipping into your general fund to meet the needs of 60 percent of your student body,” Elliott said. “It’s not just to build a new music facility.”
Once they are all complete, Elliott went on to talk about how each construction project will more than likely spur ideas for community growth.
“We don’t know what we’ve got until we have it,” he said.