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BOE dealing with two new schools, one old

Rick Wagner • Jan 5, 2018 at 3:15 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County school leaders in the new year are dealing with the births of a new school and new middle school as well as the disposition of an elementary closed in May of 2017. Here’s a rundown of the three issues:

NEW HIGH SCHOOL

Excavation contractors on the frigid Thursday afternoon were out at the new site of the $60 million high school, off Exit 63 of Interstate 81, for a pre-bid conference that drew about 25 people, Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski told the Board of Education during its work session Thursday evening. She said seven firms, including one from West Virginia, had expressed interest in bidding on the project. Newspaper ads for bids will appear Jan. 14, with bids due by Feb. 14.

As for news that broke Thursday that Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, not Kingsport Power Co. doing business as AEP-American Electric Power would service the new 1,700-student high school, Rafalowski said she had no additional information. The two power providers had been in a tug of war over serving the new school since late last summer.

The new school, to take in most if not all Sullivan Central High students and all Sullivan North and South High students, is to open in the fall of 2020. More student input on the name, colors and mascot will be sought before an online public survey similar to the one used to help name Sullivan East Middle School, Rafalowski said. 

SULLIVAN EAST MIDDLE SCHOOL

The 120-day excavation contract for the $20 million Sullivan East Middle School on Weaver Pike began Jan. 3, Rafalowski said, and she said board members and the public soon will see dirt moving in earnest on the site about a mile away from Sullivan East High School. Following results of an online survey, the school was named and has the red, white and blue colors and Patriots mascot of East High. Rafalowski said the naming, colors and mascot of the new high school brining three schools together will be more complicated.

WEAVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

The board also will be dealing with the disposition of Weaver Elementary in the new year, an East zone building with a core dating back to 1921. The board decided to close it at the end of the 2016-17 school year because of structural wall and roof issues in a 1950s addition. On Monday’s board agenda, to be considered starting at 6:30 p.m. in the first-floor meeting room of the health and education building off the Blountville Bypass, is a resolution to declare the Weaver building and its 10.5-acre site as surplus.

Adjacent residential property owners Bill Edwards and Eddie Huff have an interest in small sections of the land. The association overseeing the Weaver Cemetery, represented by Marvin Melvin, wants to buy about three acres for future expansion and an unnamed “West Coast” firm wants to buy the Weaver building and the rest of the grounds, Rafalowski said. After the surplus declaration, the board will decide how to proceed, which could include advertising for bids on the properties in question, board attorney Pat Hull said.

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