Note: This story was last updated at 12:40 p.m.
A new preschool for Oak Ridge Schools could cost $7.5 million, and Elm Grove Park in east Oak Ridge is among the sites where the new 20-classroom facility could be built, a planning committee said in a report released this month.
The report is now available online. You can read a copy of it here by clicking under the link at the end of this section: VII.D. Preschool Building Committee Recommendation.
The Oak Ridge Board of Education is scheduled to consider the Preschool Building Committee recommendation during at meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, November 2, in the School Administration Building at 304 New York Avenue. You can see the agenda here.
A new preschool has been on the city’s wish list for years. The Joint City/Schools Preschool Planning Committee said the existing building on New York Avenue needs significant repairs, and renovations could cost about $7.5 million, or about as much as it would cost to construct a new facility.
The Preschool Planning Committee, which has nine members and three non-voting members, estimated that the new 40,000-square-foot facility could cost $6.3 million to build.
There would be an additional $1.2 million in expenses for infrastructure, architects, and other fees, and an in-depth analysis by design and construction firms, pushing the total to $7.5 million, according to a summary presented by citizen representative and committee chair Shirley C. Raines during a joint Oak Ridge City Council and Board of Education work session on Tuesday.
Other sites considered by the committee included the under-used Pinewood Park in central Oak Ridge and the Ridge Greenhouse site in west Oak Ridge.
The Elm Grove Park site is a former school site, relatively flat, and has city-owned utilities, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said.
“This site is very good,” he said.
Next steps suggested in the report released last week are a community review of Task Force findings and more questions for City Council and BOE members in November 2015 and consideration of resolutions in December. Construction could take 14 months and be complete by September 2017, according to the suggested timeline.
The project could reportedly have an impact on the property tax rate equivalent to between four to seven cents, depending upon the financing options.
Oak Ridge Schools started its preschool program in 1965. Federal Head Start funds were added in 1970 to provide for a full school year program.
The Preschool has been relocated four times. Officials say the current Preschool, which is on New York Avenue in central Oak Ridge, was built as a temporary structure about 70 years ago during World War II.
The Preschool once had 14 classrooms but now has 11 on site, with one additional classroom at Woodland Elementary School.
The Preschool now serves 192 students, with no available space to add more. Officials say there are 55 children on a waiting list. Three to four classrooms must be added, with hopes of adding more later, to benefit the Oak Ridge Schools’ literacy initiative, the Preschool Building Committee report said. Of the 192 students in the Preschool now, 168 are children living in poverty, the report said.
The current program is funded by Title I, Head Start, Voluntary Preschool, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The Joint City/Schools Preschool Building Committee met in April, June, July, August, and September.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Copyright 2015 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.