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TES proposal receives mixed review

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By Robin Bass

A proposal to build a two-story addition to Taylorsville Elementary instead of constructing a new facility sent school board members into a spirited debate Monday night.

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John Shircliffe, Main Street committee chairman, presented a rendering of a 20,000 sq. ft. building that could increase the school’s capacity from 450 to 800 students. The building would be located between the existing structure and the preschool. Additional parking could be gained by demolishing the school’s detached cafeteria and purchasing adjacent land to the west of the preschool. Shircliffe said the new addition could provide at least 10 new classrooms and a 4,000 sq. ft. media center. The preschool building could be renovated to include a new cafeteria, or be demolished and built to specifications from the ground up.

Shircliffe told board members that his only motivation for creating the design proposal was out of a desire to see Taylorsville’s inner city restored.

“We could get this done considerably quicker than building a new school,” said Shircliffe, maybe with a lower price tag. He said that considering the current economic climate, it may be necessary for the school board to explore alternatives that do not include spending $12 million on a new facility.

The reaction from school board members was mixed.

“We do have the ability to be flexible,” said Superintendent Chuck Adams, but until the district received state approval to spend bonded funds on renovation projects, discussion on the issue was like “beating a dead horse.”

“We need to keep this as an option,” said board member Scott Travis. “We can not build a new school with out taxing people in our county more. I think it leaves us no option but to do something at that campus.”

Adams was quick to stress that local school taxes are used to pay for unfunded state mandates and pay increases – also spelled out by the state.

“At no time has there been a discussion about increasing taxes in connection with a new building,” said Adams.

Board member Mary Ann Carden said that Travis’s comments were an alarmist tactic.

Several years ago when the board was discussing the possibility of renovating the oldest section of TES, commonly referred to as the 1938 building, Carden said many local residents and school staff saw it as a waste of money.

“Overwhelmingly we heard, don’t do it. We want a new building,” said Carden. “Taxpayers wouldn’t find any sense in spending money renovating an old building. Taxpayers want a state of the art teaching facility.”

Shircliffe asked if the 1938 building was somehow separated from the rest of the school – with a brick wall perhaps – would the state then allow bonded money to be used? What if the 1938 building was demolished?

“If the 1938 building were not in the picture, it would open up a world of possibilities,” said Carden.

Adams said there were more problems with the proposal, from not having enough land to potentially having to close Jefferson Street. Still with all those problems resolved, Adams said the state would never fund the project.

“It’s not going to happen,” said Adams.

The district’s current bonding potential is about $8 million. If the economy improves, Adams anticipates the ability to bond $12.5 million by 2012.

A representative from Sherman-Carter-Barnhart estimated that an 800 capacity elementary school today would cost at least $13 million. This price would not include purchasing the land or connecting to sewer lines.

Sherman-Carter-Barnhart is an architectural firm that was responsible for building the new middle school and making renovations to the high school and TES.

In other school news:

• Board members approved the schematic design and design development of SCHS’s gymnasium bleachers, re-roofing project and football field grandstands.

• Board also approved the 2010-2011 draft budget.

• Board of Education meetings will be held on the following dates and locations:                                                       

Monday, February 22                          SCHS Media Center           

Monday, March 22                              TES Media Center

Monday, April 26                                 SCES Cafeteria

Monday, May 24                                 SCMS Media Center                          

Monday, June 28                                 SCMS Media Center                                                          

Monday, July 26                                  SCMS Media Center                          

Monday, August 23                            SCHS Media Center                           

Monday, September 27                       SCMS Media Center                          

Monday, October 25                           Preschool                            

Monday, November 22                       SCES Cafeteria                                    

Monday, December 20                        TES Media Center

• SCES teachers Jamie Blackburn and Stephanie Sandford were recognized for earning their National Board Certifications.

• Assistant Superintendent Norma Thurman presented SCHS PAS test results that were a mixture of good and bad. PAS is used as an indicator in KCCT and NCLB tests.