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Moisture woes impacting completion of Johnson City's new Fairmont Elementary

November 8th, 2011 1:10 pm by Gary B. Gray

Moisture woes impacting completion of Johnson City's new Fairmont Elementary

The word no one with Johnson City Schools wanted to hear — “moisture” — reared its ugly head, if only for a brief time, at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
With all the past problems encountered, and all the expensive fixes applied to the once moldy Career Technical Center, some board members cringed when Supervisor of Instruction and Facilities Dave Chupa reported that the new Fairmont Elementary School is continuing to have problems with moisture underneath some of the flooring.
“Is it that word — moisture?” asked board Secretary Sheila Cox. “And are we going to be OK?”
Chupa acknowledged that moisture problems have delayed completion of a few areas but arrangements have been made for repairs and replacement at no cost to the school system.
“The auditorium, music and art classrooms and physical educations teachers’ office are still having moisture problems,” Chupa said. “Hopefully we’re on track.”
Chupa also informed board members that construction at Science Hill continues to move forward, and a completion date of late this month or early December remains in place.
“We continue to encounter some minor delays because of the need for some change orders as a result of findings related to the old building,” he said. “There has been some need for drainage changes from the cafeteria roof drains, the need to sheetrock along the central corridor to make it look appropriate, and transition from old to new electrical, alarms and security.”
Chupa said the academic building is receiving tile, being painted, having ceiling grids installed, white boards are being installed and grading of topsoil also has begun. But demolition of the old third wing will have to wait until no students are present, which means it likely will be demolished over the Christmas holiday.
He also said the physical education facility is getting a roof and final masonry work and that it may not be ready until after basketball season.
Indian Trail has submitted a plan for additional recreation space for students that could be worked in when the school transitions from a middle to an intermediate school. The plan includes the installation of seating, play spaces, a gazebo and some other spaces. This would be paid for through various fundraising stages.
Discussion of the school’s facilities led to a preview of a number of items that should come up in Thursday’s joint Board of Education/City Commission Facilities Committee meeting.
First, is the state of fire safety. Fire Chief Mark Scott is expected to be on hand to talk about whether a need remains at the school for “fire watches.” The watches, which involved a sparse number of firefighters who were on hand when school started in August just in case any exits became blocked or alarms did not function properly.
The committee also will hear a report regarding the city’s negotiations with a Florida company to install photovoltaic (solar panels) on up to 27 city-owned buildings, including schools.
“I ask that the facility committee ask city officials about considering the purchase of property around Cherokee Elementary,” said board member Tom Hager. “It’s getting crowded out there. I’d also like some clarification on who has priority for scheduling events at Freedom Hall. There is a concern that there may be conflicts when the (Science Hill) football team has home games.”
Meanwhile, the school board voted to extend for one year the contract of Superintendent Richard Bales.
“We had a chance at our retreat to review Dr. Bales’ performance, and he’s shown improvement in every single category,” Chairwoman Kathy Hall said.
The 2011-12 budget included a hike in Bales’ annual salary from $125,613 to $146,202.
Currently, he is one year into a four-year contract. The one-year addition to his contract means he will make $584,808 over the next four years.

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