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Harriman Middle on tap to get new bleachers

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By Damon Lawrence

The Roane County Board of Education had a lengthy discussion about a new gym for Harriman Middle School at a meeting in December 2009.
Board members initially chose a building option that called for bleachers on both sides of the gym.
After a short break, however, they came back and voted on another option that had bleachers on one side only, and that was eventually how the gym was built.
The reason given was that putting bleachers on both sides was more expensive, and the board wanted to stay within budget.
Now the board is planning to add more bleachers, even though the gym is less than two years old.
“There’s a few options there,” school system business manager Eric Harbin explained to the Roane County Commission on Oct. 15.
“One is adding bleachers to the existing structure. The second option is to redesign the building, knock out a wall and provide additional space.”
The gym was part of the school system’s $32 million building program.
The board is looking to use surplus money from the program on other projects, including additional bleachers for the gym.
Commissioner Randy Ellis questioned Harbin about why it wasn’t included in the original plans.
“Keep in mind, all areas were trying to stay within their allocated budget on the planning stages,” Harbin said. “Every area had to make choices and concede to stay within their budget, so that’s why we’re here. We feel like additional bleachers would serve the community better.”
The surplus from the building program is about $1.7 million.
The commission approved a resolution to allow the schools
to spend it on additional projects.
The move still needs the approval of the Roane County Economic Development Foundation.
The school system’s plan to spend $800,000 for a band room/gym lobby for Roane County High School also sparked some discussion at the commission meeting.
Commissioner Ron Berry inquired about the future of Roane County High School, and whether there are plans to build a new one.
“We’re looking at Oliver Springs High School campus and Roane County High School campus to do a master plan or a feasibility study to see if we should invest in those campuses or look for a new site,” Harbin said.
“We’ll probably do the feasibility study before we decide to spend that $800,000.”