The new Crab Orchard Elementary school is about 60 days from completion, and faculty are getting excited.

“Teachers have asked when they can start moving,” Principal Debbie Beaty said. 

Construction on the $10.5 million facility began last July. It provides additional classroom space, rooms for art, music, teen living and agriculture classes, a science lab, new cafeteria and kitchen and gymnasium. 

Kim Chamberlin, with Upland Design Group, said contractor Wilson Construction of Athens continued to make good progress despite record-setting rain events in the winter. 

“I couldn’t be happier with what the contractor has been able to get done,” Chamberlin told the board during its July 25 meeting. 

The school is also getting new furniture for the new facility, with delivery expected in mid-September. New furniture will cost about $131,600 and was paid for in the 2018-’19 budget.

Director of Schools Janet Graham said the furniture consultant had visited the school and helped evaluate all the furniture, ensuring furniture still in good condition will be used in the new facility. 

Once the new facility is complete, faculty will move into their new classrooms and the school system will salvage what they can from the old building. 

If the current schedule holds, Beaty anticipates moving into the new facility over fall break, set Oct. 7-11. 

About three weeks after moving, demolition of the old building will begin and the two portable classrooms removed from the campus.

Graham said there are some projects the school system wants the board to consider, like roof replacement on the wing built in 2001 which is staying and paint to help the old wing better match the new school. Some exterior doors in the classrooms of the existing wing are also rusting and in need of replacement.

“There are little projects that did not get included,” Graham said. “We want to make the best decisions to draw closure to a project that’s beautiful and to have something that you’re happy with and use our money the wisest.”

Beaty said there had been some leaks in the addition. Chamberlin said the roof will be evaluated to determine if it needs repairs or replacement. 

The board has already approved using contingency funds to redo the entrance to the school from Hwy. 70 E. During its July 25 meeting, the board approved using $6,825 to move the internet connection from the old building to the new facility and up to $12,000 for scoreboards for the new gym. About $143,000 remains of the original $250,000 contingency fund. 

While not part of the new construction project, work is continuing on a septic system replacement project. Chamberlin said the contractor for that project expected to install the new septic tanks in the next couple of weeks. That will allow the new school to hook on to the system.

“Even if the new field lines aren’t done, we’ll just live off the old ones like they are now,” Chamberlin said.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.