GRAY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Washington County School Board of Education met with Washington County commissioners and toured the old Citi call center to consider transforming the building into a new school.
Superintendent of Washington County Schools, Jerry Boyd, said the purpose of the tour was to walk through the facility and find out how the building could meet the needs of a new school rather than finding another location and building from the ground up.
“We discussed issues like the cost of renovating a building like this and converting it to a school, an elementary, middle school, grade school versus building and finding a property in this location,” said Boyd.
The Washington County School Board conducted a growth study that showed they would need a new pre-k through 8 schools in the area in the next five to seven years.
“Certainly this part of Washington County is the highest growth area of any place in the county,” said Washington County Mayor, Joe Grandy. “So, the school board has done a study recently to determine that this would be a place where a new school might be needed in the near future. And so as they’ve looked at sort of building the bull’s eye of where that school ought to be, this particular site fits that bill really well.”
Boyd said a developer is potentially interested in a lease-purchase agreement with the school board and the county commission.
“The developer would develop the school to the specifications of the board of education approved by the commission and then over time, then the board of education will utilize that converted school to serve students,” said Boyd.
An architect came up with a conceptual layout of what a school would look like in the old Citi building.
“Just conceptually map out how many classrooms, where would it potentially be,” said Boyd. “How would the classrooms be located throughout the school? Where would the commons areas and the area like the gym be at, the dining area and the service area for the cafeteria.”
Boyd said the use of an already-established building saves money.
“There’s a lot of space that can be converted, but it also has a lot of the infrastructure established electrical, the mechanical, the technology infrastructure already more or less exist in the building,” said Boyd.
Grandy said the board of education hasn’t officially decided on using the building yet.
“If that’s something that they come to the commission and say, ‘we would like to look at a plan to renovate that building for the needs of the school system in the community and for the future growth,'” said Grandy. “Then the county commission will begin to gnaw in on it and figure out how to finance it and other things.”
Boyd said if the developer’s timeline works with the school board then the next steps would be deciding if they want to officially use the building.
“It certainly is a very real and good opportunity to look at,” said Boyd. “But the timing may not work. But it can, and that’ll be the discussion.”