The Oak Ridge City Council and Board of Education have a joint meeting this evening (Thursday, January 15) to discuss the Preschool and School Administration Building, a 70-year-old building that officials have been hoping to replace for years.
In December, the City Council and BOE toured a building on Mitchell Road that could be a new home for the Preschool. It’s one of several proposed options that have been recently discussed. Others include repairing the existing building on New York Avenue or building a new facility. Officials have largely ruled out splitting up the Preschool and hosting students in classrooms at the city’s elementary schools.
Education officials say the Preschool has to be renovated or vacated by next year in order for the school system to continue to receive federal Head Start funding.
School officials have recommended a long-term lease for the Preschool, with an option to purchase. Oak Ridge Schools has also recommended buying the Chamber of Commerce building for a new School Administration Building and remodeling the G Building at Oak Ridge High School to accommodate administration support services, a “better defined” Alternative School program, and the ROTC program.
School officials estimate it could cost $570,000 per year to lease a new facility, with an annual increase of 2 percent over 20 years.
It could cost $880,000 to buy the Chamber of Commerce building and $350,000 to remodel the G Building at ORHS. The Chamber building is located next to the high school and would be large enough for most School Administration and BOE functions, school officials said late last year. They said Chamber leaders have been open to the proposal, and some talks are under way.
The current Preschool and School Administration Building on New York Avenue could be sold to help offset the cost of buying and remodeling the Chamber building and G building. The current Preschool and School Administration Building has an estimated property value of $410,000 to $710,000.
Oak Ridge Schools posted a request for proposals last year to lease classroom space (see Announcement of Bids). The preliminary estimated lease costs were due by December 1, and proposals were due by 2 p.m. January 8. School officials would like to stay within three miles of the current building.
A recommendation is expected to be made to the Board of Education on January 26, and City Council could consider it on February 9. Then, a contract with the landlord for construction could be signed and approved by March 1, with the building ready to be occupied between July 1 and July 30, 2015, school officials said last year.
Today’s meeting starts at 5 p.m. in the Robert J. Smallridge School Administration Building’s Board Room. See the agenda here.