Story by Damon Lawrence of the Roane County News
The Roane County Board of Education is planning to head down a familiar path with hopes for more success this time.
During a special-called meeting on Tuesday, the board approved a motion to spend up to $25,000 for Lewis Group Architects to give the board a study on building a new Roane County High School and another new high school that would combine Harriman and Rockwood.
“Tell me what you will be giving us in that study,” Board Member Mike “Brillo” Miller asked Lewis Group during the meeting.
“You’re going to get a revised program document for two schools,” Lewis Vice President Todd Brang said. “What we’re going to do is sit down with the staff and administration and go through a program for each of the two schools, identify the needs for each of those schools and come up with some sort of total square footage for each of those schools.”
Brang also said his firm will provide “an estimate of probable construction cost for both projects.”
Miller also asked Lewis to provide information on moving Ridge View Elementary School to Rockwood High School and moving Harriman Middle School to Harriman High School.
The study could be ready by next month’s school board meeting.
“It’s not going to take that long,” Brang said.
“We could probably have it turned around before your next school board meeting,” Lewis Group Founder and Principal Jerry Lewis added.
After the study is ready, the board could vote to request funding for the projects from the Roane County Commission.
Roane County has five high schools. It was stated in the motion that Oliver Springs High School and Midway High School is not part of the plan.
“I need it to be stated that Midway High School is to continue to operate as a high school in this plan,” Board Member Nadine Jackson said.
“This does not include Midway High School,” Miller said. “This is Harriman, Rockwood and Kingston. This is for the three.”
Construction is underway to move Oliver Springs High School in with Oliver Springs Middle to create a 6th grade through 12th grade school.
With the help of Lewis Group, the school board proposed a $68 million plan in 2018 to the Roane County Commission that called for building a new high school to serve Kingston, Harriman and Rockwood. Other parts of that plan called for moving Oliver Springs High School in with Oliver Springs Middle, sewer upgrades for the Midway area schools, moving Ridge View Elementary to Rockwood High School and moving Harriman Middle School to Harriman High School.
The only two projects the County Commission would fund was the Oliver Springs and Midway projects.