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Central office key to KCS Facilities Master Plan

CHRISTAN M. THOMAS • Jan 18, 2007 at 11:24 AM

Facilities planning became the evening's hot topic Thursday, at the Kingsport Board of Education's monthly work session.

Rick Russell, Kingsport City Schools capital improvement representative, led the discussion surrounding a draft of the KCS Facilities Master Plan, including what to do with the school system's central office.

More direction and cost estimates on the central office must be given, Russell said, before other project timelines can be considered.

"This will sort of set the direction on more detailed and directed discussions (on facilities)," said KCS Superintendent Dr. Richard Kitzmiller.

Russell said the system had received results of a study on the central office on Thursday afternoon. Beeson, Lusk and Street Architects compiled the study and options for central office.

The study determined that in order to house 36 people - everyone currently housed in central office, plus others scattered around the schools, but not including technology or staff development departments - a building must be approximately 17,000 square feet. In addition, 14 people in technology and staff development would require at least 6,590 square feet. To house all staff under one roof would require approximately 24,000 square feet.

The report offered three options for housing central office staff.

•Option one would include moving staff development and technology to the American Legion building on Center Street and housing the rest of central office in the Midland Drive building (former health department) across from Dobyns-Bennett. The American Legion building would be renovated to house offices, workspaces, computer lab, a teacher training area, stage and kitchen. Parking would also be added between the building and D-B. The health department building would be renovated and an addition placed on the front. Russell said this option comes with an estimated cost of approximately $1.1 million to $1.9 million.

•Option two is to place all staff in the former health department building.

In order to accomplish this option, the building would have to be renovated and two additions built - one on the front and a 13,000-square-foot, two-story facility on the back. This option is estimated to cost approximately $3 million total.

•Option three would be to build a new 24,000-square-foot office on three to four acres of space. Russell reported an estimate for this option of approximately $3.5 million.

Dr. Kitzmiller said some quick decisions must be made on the central office's future for two main reasons - the technology department's current lease will expire in March, and other projects on deck must be completed during the summer months.

Board members pointed out, however, that it would be difficult to decide on a solution when other variables - such as the possibility of consolidation with Sullivan County, pending county bond issues and growth needs at D-B - are unknown.

"It's difficult to look at a permanent solution when you can't see three years down the road," board member Wally Boyd said. "(But) I think we all know we can't leave central office the way it is. When you have to walk sideways through one person's office to get to another, you're out of space."

The BOE will now consider the options and vote on their choice in the next few weeks.

"I've thought of at least one more option," Dr. Kitzmiller said. "I think just knowing the cost and absorbing and understanding what you've seen and knowing what kind of timeline we're on, let's try and commit to making some sort of decision in the next two weeks."

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