Battles of capital plans, principal’s position take the spotlight in city10:23 am | December 31, 2013
While the city of Elizabethton proved to be a busy stage in 2013, the Elizabethton City School system stole the spotlight with its quest for a new athletic complex and classrooms and a controversy surrounding the removal of an elementary school principal.
The system began the year still seeking funds for the next phase of school capital plans, which included a new athletic complex, music room and classroom additions at Elizabethton High School and new classrooms, restrooms and accessibility improvements at T.A. Dugger Junior High School.
System administrators said the projects at EHS would have to be completed first to allow demolition of the home-side grandstands at TAD to allow space for the junior high project.
In April, Mayor Curt Alexander presented a proposal to city council and school system administrators to fund the capital projects by refunding the 2008 bond for the school system. After reviewing the numbers, city leaders told the school system the capital spending limit would be $7.1 million, rather than the requested $9 million. Then, in July, city council approved the start of the bond process for the schools – with the amount not to exceed $6.1 million.
City council approved a bond in August for the school system that was expected to be close to $5.5 million, but was not to exceed $6.6 million.
A newly formed Capital Projects Committee reworked the capital plans to meet a new $5 million budget, but raised concerns that all three projects could not be completed because the total estimated cost would be $6.9 million.
In November, the Elizabethton Board of Education voted 4-1 to approve the committee’s capital plan recommendation to complete the EHS projects first and the TAD projects in a few years as more funding becomes available. Contracts with architect Thomas Weems were also approved for the projects.
The project hit a delay in December when council members deferred a vote to allow the school system access to the bond funding to start the projects.
Council members cited concern that the school system did not think about future funding responsibilities while others felt the classrooms at TAD should be built first and that council had been misled in the plans.
School board chair Rita Booher called for public support for the projects during the December school board meeting.
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