Officials tweaking plans for schools

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By The Staff



Preliminary plans and estimates for the Roane County Schools building plan are beginning to take shape.

During a Monday work session, Roane County Board of Education members discussed details of tentative site plans for Bowers Elementary, Harriman Middle, Rockwood Middle and Rockwood High schools.

All the plans had a contingency percentage added onto them. Cope Associates, architects for the Harriman plans, added a 10-percent contingency to the subtotals for each project.

Cockrill Design & Planning, the firm working on Rockwood plans, put in a 5-percent contingency allowance.

Cope also had estimates and plans for Kingston Elementary and Cherokee Middle schools but hadn’t finished meeting with school officials in that area to discuss their ideas.

Plans to expand Bowers in Harriman to accept student influx from the closing of Walnut Hill Elementary includes 14 classrooms, teacher planning and toilets, student toilets and a library media center.

Much of the proposed work will be in a two-story addition at the rear of the building.

Ramps and an elevator shaft will be in the front area of the building, solving the school building’s limitations on handicap accessibility.

In addition to the Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, improvements to administration facilities include renovating the existing media space.

A new entry road is also planned for the project. Board member Darrell “Drack” Langley said a new entrance will be near the pump station in front of the building.

Architect Lanny Cope said the firm hasn’t received a copy of the Ruritan Road widening project to see how that might impact the school.

Board member Frank Mee asked about the possibility of a one-story building.

Cope said that would “virtually wipe out the playground to do one story.”

Concern that the building will quickly be at capacity was again raised. Architects said the building would hold 650 children.

Director of schools Toni McGriff said the school would have fewer than 600 students with the addition of Walnut Hill students. She said some out-of-district students may return to their proper district instead of going to Bowers.

“But if nobody changes, we’ll be right at 600,” board Chairman Mike “Brillo” Miller said.

Miller said he was concerned they would add on just to be at capacity again shortly with what is proposed.

“While we’re doing it, we need to do the best we can,” he added.

Estimated cost for Bowers is $5.719 million.

Harriman Middle’s new gymnasium will likely not be connected to the building. Developers said they looked at several options and believe the best plan is to build the estimated $2.169 million facility about 120 feet from the school.

Mee said the gym would take up a lot of event parking for the middle and high schools.

“We’re running out of space at our campuses. I don’t know where you’d put it if you needed anymore,” Miller said.

Plans for Rockwood High School includes expanding the band room. The area would also include space for building trades and auto mechanics classes.

Storage space that could be used by both vocational and band would act as a buffer between the two.

Cockrill officials said they designed the band room for 100-115 students and the right size for good musical amplification.

New dining facilities would be built alongside the current gymnasium, and the old dining facilities would be converted into classrooms.

Cockrill’s design includes a grassy area that architect David L. Cockrill said could be a courtyard.

Rockwood Middle’s gymnasium is getting some additions and renovations, including locker rooms on the level of the court. Other improvements include the lobby and public restrooms.

Cockrill had an estimate for both projects at $3.25 million.

Cockrill said the plans so far are “very conceptual” and about “50 percent schematic design,” or essentially much in the first phase.

Cope’s tentative plans for Kingston Elementary include construction of classrooms, a playroom, CDC, teacher planning areas and toilets. Renovations include a dining area and media center.

Cost is estimated at $3.053 million.

Cherokee Middle renovations and additions are estimated to cost $3.641 million. The plan is to convert existing gym space into a cafeteria, convert the existing cafeteria into a library media center and existing media space into classrooms and toilets.

The gymnasium would including court, dressing rooms, toilets and concessions.

Cope and school officials will meet with faculty this week before scheduling another special-called meeting and workshop.

A special-called meeting to approve the architect contracts will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 9.

Additional discussion of draft plans for other school projects will follow.