School board balks at Lakeview renovation

Xavier Smith • Apr 2, 2018 at 8:40 PM

The Wilson County Board of Education balked at a measure Monday that aimed to expedite renovations at Lakeview Elementary School. 

Board member Wayne McNeese introduced the measure that would have immediately sought just more than $16 million for renovations at Lakeview that is classified as one-to-three year project in the board-approved capital outlay plan.

Wilson County Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall said the school had one renovation in the last 25 years, and the renovations would give accessibility outside and within the school building.

“If anyone knows anything about Lakeview, if you go from one part of their building to the other, you always have to walk through the gym, walk through a class or whatever is going on,” Hall said earlier this year.

The renovation would update the school’s kitchen and add a hallway behind the school’s gym for easier access through the school. The renovation would also require the district to seek land purchases from one or two pieces of adjoining property and build a loop road around the back of the school to alleviate traffic concerns.

McNeese said he felt the need to expedite the renovation project after he visited the facility with Wilson County Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall and said there were codes violations at the school.

“We never discussed the violations we have at that school. Either we’re going to address it now, or possibly address it when violations are brought to light,” McNeese said.

“We don’t have any unsafe conditions at the school,” said Hall, who noted the school was built in 1967, and fire marshals, health inspectors and similar professionals inspect the building often.

“Anything they cite us for, we correct immediately. We take care of those issues. These are just code issues. In 1967 when this building was built, they didn’t know about what the international building codes and things like that today,” Hall said.

“There are some code violations. They’re not critical, but they are code violations. Mr. Hall and I met out there last week, or the week before. There are some violations out there,” McNeese said.

Hall said the project could take 24-30 months if the Wilson County Commission approved the funds for the project this month. The group questioned the likeliness of that approval since the commission and school board are still in heavy discussions about funding for a new high school in Mt. Juliet, estimated to cost $110 million.

The measure failed with McNeese as the lone vote in support of the move. Board members Tom Sottek and Gwynne Queener were absent from the meeting.

The group also approved the potential for a random drug test program for high school student athletes and participants in extracurricular activities.

The group approved a policy change that would establish a committee to develop random drug test procedures for high school athletes and participants in extracurricular activities.

Chuck Whitlock, Wilson County Schools health services supervisor, said the district has discussed a random drug test policy for about two years and was born from concerns from high school administrators.

No student who tests positive under the random drug test program would be suspended or expelled from school solely as the result of a positive test. Whitlock highlighted the Tennessee attorney general’s opinion on random drug testing of students stipulates that it should be rehabilitative in nature.

If approved, the district would aim to have the random drug testing policy and procedures in place prior to the 2018-2019 school year, but there remains a chance it would not be in place, according to Whitlock.

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