Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Construction plans for a new East Brainerd Elementary School are moving forward, but the fate of the former David Brainerd Christian School, which houses the interim East Brainerd Intermediate School, still hangs in the balance.
The new East Brainerd Elementary School will be built on the site of the former private school. In preparation for building the new school, there has been some discussion by county and school board officials as to whether or not the existing buildings on the site will remain.
“The discussion even today is why are we going to abandon and tear down these buildings when they’re better than some of the others in the county,” said Hamilton County District 8 Commissioner Tim Boyd. “We don’t want to tear them down if we can use them, but I don’t think people realize how inexpensively they were built.”
Boyd, a construction engineering professional for more than 20 years, pointed to residential windows, Sheetrock walls, excessive energy bills due to poor insulation, small classrooms, insufficient fire suppression, Masonite siding on the school’s exterior and poor security as some of the reasons two of the existing buildings on the site will most likely need to be rebuilt. The building containing the gymnasium will most likely remain, he said.
The Hamilton County Commission recently approved funds for an architect selection process that will determine the feasibility of using the existing buildings in the new school’s construction and determine which architectural firm will design the new school.
“I don’t mind the architect doing their due diligence and saying it makes sense to keep these buildings,” said Boyd. “But the architect is tasked to build a structure that functions. I expect him or her to question whether or not these buildings will function how we want schools to function in 30-70 years. We want this new structure to last 70-100 years.”
According to Hamilton County School Board Chairman Mike Evatt, bringing the existing buildings up to Hamilton County’s current standards would most likely cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” and require expensive upkeep.
“In this area there’s been a lot of discussion and a lot of hurt or ill feelings between the community, the board and the administration, but I feel like when folks see what’s available with the new buildings, it will be a good fit for the community,” he said. “We’ve heard it said before that everyone can’t go to a new school, but we’re slowly progressing toward lots and lots of new schools.”
For East Brainerd faculty and students, a new school is about a lot more than which buildings remain on the site.
“It will be nice to be one faculty and one school again,” said East Brainerd Elementary principal Dr. Bryan Stewart. “We’ve never had an assembly as a whole school at the school.”
Stewart said he is also looking forward to more space in the new school.
“I really hope for classrooms conducive to learning literacy and math,” he said. “In several of our classrooms right now we can’t even get the kids together in one whole group outside their desks. Some classes have to go outside of the building just to do a science experiment.”
The new East Brainerd Elementary school is slated to open for the 2014-2015 school year.