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Officials closer to decision on problem-plagued school building | News

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Officials closer to decision on problem-plagued school building
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(WBIR - Oak Ridge) Oak Ridge city and school officials are tackling a lead paint problem that has plagued a school for years.

The problem extends to the preschool and school administration building that is more than 70-years old. Now it has structural problems and lead paint chipping off of the side.

"We have to have that corrected, or we have to be out of that facility by the time the next school year starts," Oak Ridge school board chairman Keys Fillauer said.

City officials held two work sessions recently with the school board to work on a decision for this problem. They have a couple of options to choose from.

"The decision is do we fix the lead base paint issue and develop a plan for what is the next step, or do we immediately develop a plan for moving into a new facility or building a new facility," Fillauer said.

Cleaning the exterior walls would cost $150,000 but that would only be a small fix to the problems.

It could also cost a lot to find a new building and bring it up to code.

"We don't want to throw money down a well. And as you look at these facilities, you can continue to sink more money into it. There is probably a strong desire to invest in something that will be for the next generation," Oak Ridge city manager Mark Watson said.

The city would either have to make room in its budget for a new structure, or look for grants to help buy a new facility.

A new facility might fit into the school's plans of growing its preschool program.

"We have demand for pre-k facilities, and some of the options we have looked at have additional space that can accommodate more students, but of course with more students comes more teachers and more costs associated with that," said Watson.

The school board is holding a meeting Monday, January 26 where they plan to make a decision on the next step for the building.


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