The County Commission on Wednesday gave approval for four new school projects, setting the stage for architects to be selected to draw up the plans.
Gary Waters, who oversees county school facilities, said the target date for a new elementary school to open behind the present Ganns-Middle Valley Elementary School is August 2016. It will replace both that old school and the even-older Falling Water School.
There will also be additions at Nolan Elementary on Signal Mountain, Sale Creek School and Wolftever Elementary.
Mr. Waters said probably the first dirt to be turned will be at Nolan, which was designed for an expansion.
He said the Wolftever project will have a few more complications. Portables that house the entire student body of the middle school at Sale Creek will have to be moved because they are on the spot where the expansion will take place. The Sale Creek project will include a new cafeteria.
The decision was a disappointment to adherents of Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts, which was on the list of the six top projects but again did not receive funding. Parents at the school have been campaigning outside the County Courthouse.
Commissioner Joe Graham said the decision should not have been made to tear down the former David Brainerd School at the site of a new East Brainerd Elementary School. He said CSLA students should be moved to the David Brainerd site and East Brainerd Elementary use the current CSLA location, which parents have said is in a rundown condition.
County Mayor Coppinger said, “This was a good day for education.”
The estimated cost of these four projects totals $48 million. County Mayor Coppinger said this brings the amount of money committed to schools in his three-year tenure to almost $100 million.
He reminded those in the crowded commission room, “We should be excited about the four projects we are doing.” He noted that all the school projects will be built without raising anyone’s property taxes. “We should be excited, we are moving forward and we will continue to build new schools,” he said.
He said Wednesday's vote did not spend any money. “This is simply a vote to select an architect to provide plans to build these projects. We will come before the commission again after the plans are drawn up to ask the commissioners to approve the funding to begin the building process.”