By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
A long-range building and improvement plan for facilities in the school system may be on the horizon for the Cumberland County Board of Education.
Members of the BOE’s building and grounds committee met Tuesday evening to tour the new addition at Pine View Elementary and discuss possible future projects at Crab Orchard and North Cumberland.
“We’ve got a lot of things that need to be addressed and looked at in our schools,” Sandy Brewer, 3rd District representative, said. “We need to look at a cafeteria expansion and classrooms at Crab Orchard. We need to get the students out of the portables at North. We’ve got to do something about that and the gym at Crab Orchard is also a big issue.”
“The last long range building plan that I am aware of was back in 2003. I think the board should consider a long-range plan and look at the one from 2003. It doesn’t mean we have to start from scratch, but look at the options, gather information from the community and make an informed decision. I think we’d need to look all across the board and prioritize. The administration could then make a recommendation to the board and then we could go to the county commission with a long-range plan and say this is what we need,” Director of Schools Donald Andrews said.
“I think that it would be foolish to go with the 2003 plan at this point,” Brewer said.
“There’s no other plan, or there’s not yet a plan,” Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative, said.
“If we’re going to do something, we need to do it right,” Brewer said.
While looking at plans, Larry Allen, 6th District county commissioner, said, “It may be cheaper to build a new separate cafeteria than it would be to add onto the existing one.”
He was referring to Crab Orchard Elementary.
Allen, who has several years of construction project experience, also suggested the BOE look at having options to present to the county commission.
“You may want to have option one that includes the cafeteria or option two with the gym or option three with new classrooms. You may want to put the gym as a separate issue and maybe do two at a time instead of all three,” Allen said.
“I understand your point, but I would say to any county commissioners that when you have to carry handicapped kids down the stairs to get to the gym, you’ve got a problem. I know not any of them would like that if it was their child or grandchild in that situation. It’s not that it’s a want to— it’s a have to have,” Brewer said.
“I understand and it’s only a suggestion,” Allen said.
Kathy Allen, retired principal from North Cumberland, said, “And when there’s bad weather, you have to bring in all the kids from the portables into the main building and it disrupts everything for the day.”
“We’ve got to look at all of these and do something,” Vivian Hutson, 6th District representative said.
The group unanimously agreed to hold a work session with the entire board to discuss long range planning and to look at school zones.
Prior to the meeting, the group toured the new addition at Pine View Elementary.
Cracking and bubbling underneath tiles were a couple of problems members of the committee noticed while touring the newly opened addition.
“They’ve taken up several of the tiles and have replaced many,” Pat Allen, Pine View principal said.
Allen explained to Brewer, that since school has started, they are to use the floors like normal and watch for any additional tile problems and mark the spots by Thanksgiving. The contractor will make repairs over the Christmas break.
“Well, then we don’t need to pay the final payment until after then and they take care of it,” Brewer said.
Other than the tile problems in some areas, the committee and staff at Pine View are very happy with the addition.
The addition adds 15,000 square feet to Pine View Elementary. The old gymnasium was demolished to build five new classrooms, including space for teen living and music classes, additional restrooms, a staff workroom, guidance office, resource classroom and a multipurpose room. J. Cumby Construction Inc. of Cookeville, TN was the contractor on the project.
Allen said, “We are very happy and thrilled with addition. I can’t tell you how happy we are and how excited the kids are. We appreciate this very much.”
Allen said they have only used the new multipurpose room a few times because the addition just opened at the beginning of the school year a few days ago.
“It’s going to be a big benefit to our school,” Allen said.