CHATTANOOGA,TN (WRCB)- Hamilton County Superintendent Rick Smith said the school district is proud of rising enrollment and improved test scores, but has serious needs in several older school buildings.
Speaking to the Hamilton County Council of PTAs, Smith cited "amazing growth in eastern Hamilton County" sparked by the new Volkswagen plant that opened in 2010, "which really changed the game."
He said a new Ooltewah Elementary School would open in 2013, followed by a new East Brainerd Elementary School in 2014, "but even those schools will open at or near capacity, and they'll be the largest elementary schools we've ever built."
Smith said the elementary students would soon become middle school students, "and we'll have to address the need for a middle school out there too." He said he is also looking forward to a new Red Bank Middle School, also opening next year.
Responding to parent questions, he admitted that many aging buildings are in dire need of repair to roofs and ceilings. Among them are Central High School and Loftis Middle School, both of which have "leaked for fifteen years," according to Smith.
He also cited the need for a new school in the Sale Creek area, where "the entire middle school is in portable buildings."
He later told Eyewitness News, "We haven't forgotten about Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts either." CSLA has been in the county's building plans since 1998, when school officials first mentioned the need for a new building for the K-8 school.
Smith said a new CSLA could help with East Brainerd area overcrowding as well.