KINGSPORT — Kingsport school leaders have recommended the city purchase three lots adjoining Indian Highland Park for $152,000, a proposal that will go before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen next week.
The Board of Education also voted 5-0 to recommend accepting the low bid on the new Jefferson Elementary School library, another issue that also is to go before the BMA.
Kingsport City Schools Finance Director David Frye recommended the purchase of three lots near the intersection of Center and Park streets — 1808-1810 E. Center St. — for $152,000.
He said that would assure the owner would receive a net of $150,000 after any expenses of the sale are absorbed in the purchase price.
The purchase will include a building the system once rented until it got to use the Midland Center. Appraisals in 2003 and again this year valued the parcels at $150,000.
“This is a strategic piece of property for Kingsport City Schools in the long range,” Frye said of the need for more space around the park.
The board voted 5-0 to recommend the purchase and in a separate motion to use $152,000 in Basic Education Program “growth money” expected from Tennessee because of an increase in city school population in relation to other K-12 public schools operating in Sullivan County.
Frye said he was confident the growth money would be at least $152,000 since the estimated figure is $211,000 in growth.
“The immediate plans would be to tear the building down and put in parking,” Frye said, adding that the building suffered some damage in the storm that last year tore part of the roof off Hobby Lobby.
On the second budget matter, Frye recommended the board endorse the lowest of nine bids, which came from Bracken & Associates at $858,700, plus $13,800 in performance bonds and a 6 percent contingency of $51,522.
The board voted 5-0 to pursue that course and delay consideration of Bracken bids on two alternates, a storage addition behind the gym for $49,294 and a corridor between the 400 and 300 halls at $9,348.
The reason is that when those projects are added to additional bonds and contingencies and about $60,000 in architectural fees, the project would exceed by about $32,000 the Build America Bonds balance of $1,013,028. Frye said those projects might be added back later, possibly using leftover contingency money or other sources.
The project is to be done by the start of the 2012-13 school year in August. The first part of the project was to move the main office to where the old library was, a move to improve school security.
In other matters:
•BOE President Randy Montgomery said a group of 12 to 15 people has formed and met the first time to look at the issue of improving the football grandstands and other aspects of Dobyns-Bennett High School’s J. Fred Johnson Stadium.
That is part of a broader issue of all outdoor facilities at D-B, addressed by a consultant’s study unveiled last year and including Highland Park. Other issues include the need for renovated and expanded tennis courts and improvements to track, baseball, soccer, softball, band and ROTC areas.
Chaired by attorney Todd East and with members including D-B Alumni Association and Educational Foundation members, Montgomery said the group includes business, community and school representatives. One, Danny Karst, attended the BOE meeting. Karst and Montgomery said there is not yet a specific timeline for a recommendation from the group on the football facilities.
•BOE members Betsy Cooper and Cheryl Harvey said they attended the first meeting of the seven-member governing body of the proposed STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) platform school last week.
The city school system, Sullivan County school system and East Tennessee State University are seeking a $1.85 million grant from Tennessee for two years of “seed money” to start a grades 6-8 STEM platform school, likely at Brookside Elementary. However, it would benefit all 15 school systems in Northeast Tennessee by sharing best practices through ETSU.
•The board decided in a 5-0 vote to add a Sept. 28 Kingsport/Sullivan County Straight to the Top in-service date for teachers to the 2012-13 school year and keep the Nov. 6 in-service date for a Niswonger Foundation in-service in Greeneville.
However, the board opted to wait until the March BOE meeting to decide whether to make March 19, 2013, an in-service day because that is the day more than 400 juniors at D-B take the ACT.
Principal Chris Hampton said it takes the entire faculty, working in shifts, to administer the ACT, and that doing it while ninth-, 10th- and 12th-graders were there in 2010 — the first year the ACT was “mandatory” in Tennessee and given during the school day — was chaotic, involved students going to various places on and slightly off campus, and was akin to “herding cats.”
•The board voted 5-0 to reapply for another eight-year Federal Communications Commission license for WCSK 90.3 FM, the D-B radio station.