Commissioners delay decision on school roofing

Robert Houk • Mar 25, 2019 at 9:54 PM

Washington County commissioners voted Monday night to make a decision on spending $1.1 million to replace the roof on both sections of Jonesborough Elementary School after a workshop is held April 1 to consider funding options for a new K-8 school in Jonesborough.

Commissioners said they wanted to discuss their options for funding Scheme 6 before committing to replace the roof. The commission voted to make a decision on the roofing in a called meeting following the workshop.

County school officials have said the re-roofing project is needed regardless of what happens to the Scheme 6 plan for a new K-8 school, which will be considered in the workshop.

Phillip Patrick, maintenance supervisor for county schools, told commissioners the county’s Board of Education has made no decision regarding the fate of the round building if Scheme 6 is approved. He said delaying the re-roofing could push the project into the next school year.

Even so, commissioners said they wanted to hear all the options before approving the roofing project for Jonesborough elementary.

“I don’t want to vote $1 million to put a new roof on on a building tonight, and it be torn down months later,” Commissioner Mike Ford said.

Ford told his colleagues he didn’t think delaying a decision on the roofing project would “make or break” the roofing project.

“I want to make sure we are doing the right thing,” he said.

Board of Education Chairman Keith Ervin said he would not vote to tear down the Jonesborough “elementary school if we put a new roof on it.”

The BOE approved the Scheme 6 plan in October, which calls for renovating Jonesborough Middle School and adding about 64,000 square feet to the building.

In other business Monday, commissioners voted to:

• Approve $600,000 to buy furniture at the new Boones Creek K-8 school. The expenditure is for student desks and other furniture at the school, which is slated to open in August.

• Extend the county’s option for a seventh time to purchase the 15-acre Joe McCoy property adjacent to Jonesborough Elementary. The county’s option to purchase the tract expires on March 31. Commissioners extended the option to June 30.

Washington County Attorney Thomas J. Seeley III told commissioners earlier this month that the county is still working with attorneys to remove the legal restrictions Charlotte, N.C.-based Lowe’s Home Improvement asked to be attached to the purchase of the remaining tract when it bought its land from McCoy for its Jonesborough store more than a decade ago.

School officials say the McCoy property is key to the Scheme 6 plan and would be used to create a new road, and a bus loading and unloading zone at the new school.

• Rezone a tract of Tenn. Highway 81 South near Jonesborough owned by Enrique and Sherry Ponce from R-2 medium density residential to B-3 general business for the development of a Family Dollar store.

• Refer the county’s public records policy to its Rules Committee to make changes clarifying when and how commissioners can timely obtain documents that are open to all citizens of Tennessee.

• Hear an update from Seeley on pending litigation against the county in a closed “executive session.” Such hearings are allowed under the state’s Sunshine Law exclusively for attorneys to confer with their governmental clients regarding lawsuits and pending litigation.