Blountville Middle School reopening delayed

J. H. Osborne • Jul 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE - The portion of Blountville Middle School that's been under renovation the past several months won't reopen for students until early 2008, Sullivan County commissioners were told last week.

That means about 140 upcoming sixth-graders won't start their middle school experience there when the 2007-2008 school year begins Monday for Sullivan County Schools.

They'll go to Holston Middle School instead until after Christmas break, school system officials told members of the Sullivan County Commission's Budget Committee.

Blountville Middle School's oldest section - two stories and dating to 1932 - was closed to students earlier this year due to structural concerns. Upstairs, floors at their center point sagged as much as 5 inches from the floor line of the building's outside walls, Joe Mike Akard said Monday.

Akard is maintenance director for the county's school system. The system's maintenance department is doing all the work at Blountville Middle School. And Akard said costs have remained within the project's $200,000 budget.

An original timeline for the project set a completion date before the start of the school year next week. But by June the county's Board of Education was told that probably wouldn't happen.

Akard said an original start date would have permitted that - but even then it would have required a rush job. That start date fell by the wayside because it took longer than expected to get the state fire marshal's OK on plans for the renovation, Akard said.

"It'll probably be finished by mid-October," Akard said. "We're doing really well. All the steel work and all the concrete work are done, and the first layer of subflooring is already in place."

The section of building being renovated is about 60 feet by 100 feet, Akard said.

In addition to structural reinforcements and new flooring, the area is getting all new ceilings, newly plastered walls, new restrooms, new tile, new lab areas and new handrails in stairwells, Akard said.

"It's going to be an entirely new structure inside," he said.

Akard said school system officials decided the least disruptive thing to do is not move students back until after Christmas break.

Seventh- and eighth-graders continue to use other portions of the school.

Projected enrollment for the school year: eighth grade - 159; seventh grade - 160; sixth grade (after Christmas break) - 138.

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