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Time line for new school OK'd
New facility would open in August 2017

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County School Board on Tuesday approved a projected time line for acquiring land, design, bidding and construction of a school to consolidate and replace Collinsville Primary and John Redd Smith Elementary, provided funding is obtained.

The new school would open in August 2017 under the time line, which Henry County Public Schools (HCPS) officials said is aggressive and could hit snags.

Under the plan, the new school would combine Collinsville Primary and John Redd Smith Elementary on a new site, and it would include space for special needs students now housed in five mobile classrooms at Stanleytown Elementary. In all, the new school would house an estimated 750 students.

The school board also approved a public notice stating that HCPS is considering buying at least 15 acres of usable land for the new Collinsville area elementary school, and it approved site selection and evaluation criteria.

The public notice states that HCPS already has “identified some sites for consideration. In order to assure due diligence in the site acquisition process, (HCPS) now invites letters of interest from other land owners who also wish to have their property considered. Criteria for suitability will include, but not necessarily be limited to, location, size, shape, ease of access, safety, cost of acquisition and cost of development.”

It also states that letters of interest must be submitted by Sept. 5. It adds that HCPS reserves the right to accept or reject sites for evaluation and to determine the process for site evaluation based on its sole determination of what will serve the best interests of the school division.

“Site acquisition and subsequent project development are contingent upon approval of funding by the Henry County Board of Supervisors,” the public notice states.

The primary site selection and evaluation criteria for the new school include “context/location,” including a site in Collinsville area; “safety and accessibility,” including previous land use (environmental concerns), narrow or winding road and traffic load; “size and shape,” with about 15 acres minimum with suitable space for playfields, parking and other site amenities as well as potential for future expansion; “cost of development,” including topography and land acquisition cost; and other criteria, including good Internet access and no interruptions from cell phone signals.

Under the time line, the site short-listing process will be done in September and October, with a detailed review/selection of short-listed properties in November and December.

Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton said that when the school board decides on the land, school division officials will go the board of supervisors to seek funding.

The time line projects that purchase negotiations, school board approval and closing on the purchase will be done from January through March 2015.

It projects 10 months for design, with schematic design from April through June 2015, design development from July through September 2015 and construction documentation from October 2015 through January 2016.

The time line projects bidding/contract award will take two months, February and March 2016, and construction will take 17 months, from April 2016 through August 2017.

The cost of a new school to replace Collinsville Primary and John Redd Smith and to shift the five special needs classrooms at Stanleytown Elementary to the new school has been estimated at $21,186,587, not counting acquisition of land, according to Moseley Architects’ capital improvements study for the school division, which was presented in January.

Cotton said in an email the $21,186,587 estimate was “an approximate amount for budgeting purposes.”

“It could be less, depending on the size of the building,” he added.

Cotton said HCPS does not have an estimate of the cost of land at this time, and it will collaborate with the county and board of supervisors on funding options.

Bill Bullins, assistant superintendent of operations and administrative services, and Keith Scott, the school division’s supervisor of facilities, indicated a delay of more than a month or two in the time table could delay the opening of the new school a whole year.

Bigger classrooms; a new heating and cooling system and other infrastructure improvements; traffic and other safety improvements are among the many needs at John Redd Smith Elementary that Principal Ben Boone cited in an interview in February. The school was built in 1952, with annexes built in 1961, according to school board documents.

Issues of concern at Collinsville Primary School include traffic backup, the school being at capacity as far as space, no conference room(s) and three mobile units, Principal Lisa Millner said in February. Collinsville Primary was built in 1968, with additions/renovations in 2003, according to Moseley Architects’ study.


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