​Middle School Design Highlights School Board Meeting

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Nov. 12 Franklin County School Board meeting, Binkley Garcia Architecture (BGA) provided an overview of the floor plan and external characteristics of the two new middle schools. The board also addressed the need for Extended School Program personnel at Sewanee Elementary.
BGA principal Joseph Binkley praised the insight and smart advice offered by teachers and staff. The floor plan for both schools is nearly identical, Binkley said, except for incorporation of the extant eighth grade wing into the North Middle School design. At both schools, the classroom corridor is at a right angle to the front of the building, which will house a 400-seat auditorium, cafeteria, kitchen, offices, library, computer lab, and chorale and band practice rooms. At North, the eighth grade wing will be directly in line with and connected to the sixth and seventh grade classroom corridor.
The schools’ exterior brick surface will feature two colors, white-stone colored brick contrasted with red at North and brown at South. Interior design will draw on school colors for inspiration, deep red and charcoal at North, and green and yellow at South.
Both schools will face Hwy. 41A and feature 60-75 parking slots in front as well as a canopy to facilitate student drop off and pickup for those transported by cars. Bus drop off and pickup will happen in the rear at the gym.
At both schools, the present gyms will be connected to the new construction and undergo extensive renovation. Plans call for locker rooms where the stage is now, coaches offices, new flooring and bleachers, upgraded plumbing, air conditioning, and new membrane roofs.
The new construction at both schools will also have low-slope membrane roofs with a 15-20 year life expectancy.
Board member Gary Hanger asked why longer lasting metal roofing wouldn’t be used.
Project construction manager Gary Clardy, who has been advising the board since May, explained a metal roof would require a steeper pitch and significantly increase the cost of construction. “You can replace a membrane roof three times for the cost of a metal roof,” Clardy said.
Giving a timeline for the $46.2 million project, Clardy projected requesting funding from the County Commission at the Jan. 21 meeting, receiving fire marshal approval by mid-March then putting the project out for bid, and beginning construction in mid-May. The unretained structure will be demolished during the summer of 2020, with the schools expected to be ready for students that August.
Turning to operations, Director of Schools Stanley Bean said two ESP staff personnel at SES had resigned effective Jan. 1. Bean said he favored “hiring school system staff who had experience working with students for ESP positions, but most teachers were reluctant to put in an additional three hours.”
Bean said he had not been successful in recruiting University students for the positions.
Pointing to the low wage for ESP personnel, $15 per hour for the director and $8 per hour for support staff, board member Adam Tucker said, “If we’re not finding people, we’re not paying enough.” Tucker proposed a $2 per hour wage increase.
Bean said the program was designed to “break even.” “We may have a little money we could supplement wages with this year, and then consider increasing the cost to parents next year. I’ll check what’s available.” Bean expressed reservations about increasing the cost. “It may be more of a problem at some schools than others.”
Revisiting the Mentor Program proposed by Franklin County High School teacher Anna Mullin, the board requested a detailed plan defining goals and objectives. School attorney Chuck Cagel said more information was needed before he could advise the board on liability concerns related to transportation and non-group interaction of mentors and mentees.
The board approved an amended Facilities User agreement stipulating for-profit users of school facilities will be charged $200 or 10 percent of earnings, whichever is greater.
Taking up the need for a policy to codify the facilities naming proposal presented at the October meeting, the board considered the Tennessee School Board Association naming policy.
Board member Lance Williams recommended a waiting period of two or three years after a prospective honoree had retired before naming a facility after the person. “Naming needs to be done based on logic and merit, not emotion,” Williams noted. Williams cited displeasure when the middle schools were named without consulting stakeholders. The names were subsequently “changed back.”
Assistant Superintendent Linda Foster will research other schools’ policies and report to the board at the next meeting, Dec. 10.