ROGERSVILLE — It’s already standing room only on Friday nights when Hawkins County’s two high schools host home football games. But this time next year the crowds may be even bigger, especially at Volunteer High School.
In 2009-2010 Cherokee High School and VHS will be reclassified into the TSSAA 5A. That means the VHS Falcons will be in the same conference as Dobyns-Bennett, Science Hill, Tennessee High and Sullivan South — all schools known for bringing a big crowd with them when they play away games.
The school board has known for years it needs to increase seating capacity at both high school football fields, but it’s been hard to fit that project onto the capital outlay priority list when other more essential needs remain to be met.
Funding a stadium expansion won’t be any easier this year with only $900,000 available in the 2008-2009 fiscal year for capital outlay projects. Board members learned Thursday they have about $1.2 million in leaking roofs that need repair, and that’s only one of six capital outlay items on the “high priority list,” not including the football stadiums.
On Thursday evening the Hawkins County Board of Education agreed to authorize architect Don Solt to conduct a study on the most cost-efficient ways of increasing the seating capacity at Cherokee and Volunteer.
“The (VHS) stadium is at capacity right now,” BOE Vice Chairman Perry Dykes told the board Thursday. “We’re going to have to look at handling bigger crowds beginning next year. We need to look at Cherokee too and see how this is going to impact them.
“We’ve talked about adding a couple hundred seats in the end zones and moving the band a little. But if you look at this reclassification, it’s really going to be a strain on our facilities and how we’re going to handle those crowds.”
Building Supervisor Jim Hageman noted that David Crockett and Daniel Boone high schools paid about $75,000 for their aluminum bleachers on the visitors side. But that was about 10 years ago, and it’s not likely Hawkins County will find that price, he added.
In other business Thursday the BOE:
• Voted unanimously in favor of naming board member Charles Fuller as chairman. Fuller has been on the board for 12 years and was most recently board vice chairman.
Dykes was approved to be vice chairman by a vote of 4-3, with Debbie Shedden receiving the other three votes. Dykes, who is now the only other board member with more than a full term of experience, has been on the BOE for six years.
• Approved a low bid of $7.05 million for construction of the new Clinch School, which was submitted by Hale Construction.
• Approved a resolution proclaiming Sept. 18 as Hawkins County School Bus Driver Appreciation Day, which encourages principals at each school to plan and implement a program of appreciation that day for their respective drivers.
• Agreed to change the district’s surplus property auction from Nov. 15 to Nov. 22 because board members will be in Nashville for a Tennessee School Boards Association meeting the week of Nov. 15th.
•Welcomed three new board members to their first meeting in their new seats — Holly Helton, Michael Williams and Burl Smith.