​School Board Reverses Position on Middle Schools

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the June 18 Franklin County Commission meeting, the Franklin County School Board will ask the commission to fund the design plans for two new middle schools, with an estimated design cost of $1.8 million. This decision followed the vote at the May 14 school board meeting to rescind the request for funding for a single consolidated middle school.
The board had previously rejected the two-school solution to the problem of the county’s aging middle schools, citing concerns the high construction cost would result in sacrificing programming and curriculum needs. The search for a site for the consolidated school stalled due to high property costs and drainage problems at the two most desirable locations.
The engineering firm who advised the board in evaluating the middle schools’ dilemma suggested Director of Schools Stanley Bean contact Gary Clardy with Clardy Construction Consulting Company from Dickson, Tenn.
Clardy rejected renovating the schools, arguing the $35–$37 million price tag would get the county nothing but a roof over the existing structures. Looking at property costs and site work for a single consolidated school at the locations under consideration, Clardy concluded building two new schools would cost less.
He recommended building two identical schools on the existing school sites and retaining the gyms at both schools as well as the eighth grade wing at North Middle School, a much newer structure. Under his proposal, classes would continue in the extant structures during construction, eliminating the need for portables.
Clardy also recommended refurbishing the gym roofs and transforming the stages into locker rooms since the new buildings would have auditoriums. The new schools would accommodate 500 students each, with the eighth grade wing providing for 200 additional students at North, which has a higher enrollment.
The plans called for a covered walkway to North’s eighth grade wing, making the total cost slightly higher. Clardy estimated construction and refurbishing at North would cost $21.2–$24.3 million, and $20.5–$23.5 million at South.
He stressed the projected costs were “conceptual figures” and anticipated having more firm numbers by the next board meeting.
The estimates included Clardy’s .5 percent fee for serving as construction manager. The typical fee ranges from 2–3 percent.
“I’d like to impact Franklin County in a good way,” Clardy said. A 1970 graduate of Franklin County High School, Clardy went on to earn a degree in civil engineering. As the Assistant Superintendent for Engineering and Construction for the Rutherford County school system, Clardy has supervised the construction of 14 schools.
Clardy’s time line proposes beginning construction in November of this year and projects a completion date of January 2020, with the old schools demolished the following summer when students are not in classes.
In addition to voting to ask the county commission for design funding, the board voted to have the school system’s attorney Chuck Cagle review Clardy’s contract before retaining him as construction manager.
“What I want to see in the two buildings remains unchanged,” said school board representative Adam Tucker, stressing the importance of quality programming.
Board member Christine Hopkins concurred. “What’s fair at North needs to be fair at South.”