Bell County School System officials say the “recallable nicke” tax called for by board is not only justified but needed as well to update/renovate some of the system’s facilities.
Title I Director Jeff Saylor and Superintendent Yvonne Gilliam discussed the district’s facility needs along with the need for the 5 cent tax on real property Monday with the Daily News. They stated that there are several major projects that the money from the tax would be used for and that i can only be used for facilities.
One project Saylor discussed involves Yellow Creek School Center in Middlesboro. He said the school needs an additional eight to nine classrooms as well as additional restroom facilities.
Currently, the school uses two modular buildings that have a total of five classrooms. These buildings house the pre-school and kindergarten classes. From a safety standpoint,said Saylor, the buildings are not secure because anyone can bypass the front office and go directly to these classrooms.
Four special education teachers now share the same room inside the building as well. The new classrooms would serve as an early education wing complete with restrooms.
Saylor stated the project would cost approximately $2 million. The Yellow Creek project would be the only project the district would be able to do within the next four years without the “nickel” he said.
Another major project Saylor discussed included renovation work on Bell Central and Bell County High School (BCHS). Both HVAC units at the schools are in need of major repairs. Saylor said the HVAC unit at Bell Central would be a $3 million project and the BCHS would be a $5 million project.
Both schools are also in need of renovations on the exterior and interior walls, windows, doors, floors, ceilings and rooms. Saylor also talked about some possible renovation and redesign of some classrooms in both buildings.
There are also some ADA (American Disability Act) compliance updates that need to be made to thses two schools. Both are also in need of a secure front door. According to Saylor, all the other schools in the district parents or visitors have to be “buzzed in” before they can enter the school. There are plans to build these new entrances for the Bell Central and Bell High schools if the “nickel” tax is passed.
Several outdoor facilities need attention as well. One of the major outdoor projects is the football/softball complex at Bell Central.
This project could help with the Title IX issue that hovers over the district. If the district could build this new facility, it would help balance the amount of money spent on girls and boys athletics. Saylor said there have been plans drawn up for the project but no funds to complete it.
Saylor said the district also needs to complete the baseball and tennis complex. Saylor believes that project would cost around $125,000 to complete.
The district also wants to put artificial turf on the football field. Saylor said if this is done other springs sports would be able to use the field.
There was also discussion about building a new bus garage. This new garage would be located where Ward Chapel use to be along US 25-E. The project would cost a million dollars.
Other major projects that the “nickel” money would be used for include renovations of the Central Office Building and any renovations or projects at other existing Bell County school facilities.
Without the additional “nickel” none of the projects (with the exception of the Yellow Creek project) will be possible until a majority of the current bonds are paid off. That will not happen until 2023, according to Saylor. The construction could begin sometime at the end of 2023 and not be completed until the year 2025.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at email@example.com.