The Macon County Board of Education hopes to bid out the project to build a new elementary school as early as August of 2020, based on discussions held at its work session on Sept. 26.

In addition, the board is looking to move ahead with construction projects to expand Red Boiling Springs School (initially estimated at $2.9 million) and Macon County Junior High School (initially estimated at $9.1 million).

That plan coincides with the Macon County Commission's initial vote in September on adding $26 to next year's wheel tax (with the final vote to be held at the commission's Oct. 21 meeting, and the revenue going toward the new school if approved, allowing the board to pursue other projects).

"What I hear (from locals) is that we really need to be showing we're building these additions, at least at the junior high," board chairman Bryan Nichols said. "Everybody keeps saying, 'We paid for the last school. What's that money going to go to if we're not paying for the new school?' We keep saying how (the schools) are growing, and we need to show that."

The board discussed the possibility of bidding out the RBS and MCJHS projects as a package deal, which will be possible once the fire marshal reviews the plans for MCJHS (a process that can take between two and eight weeks).

"I think that would make it a more attractive project," John Cheney, client manager and Nashville operations manager for Cope Architecture, said. "You'd get bigger contractors, better qualified contractors and be able to deal with one contractor doing both projects."

In order to save approximately $2 million in costs, the board discussed cutting the new classrooms planned for MCJHS from 12 to six.

"Six classrooms would hold them ... depending on how our enrollment grows," Macon County Director of Schools Tony Boles said. "Right now, MCJHS is only 88 students shy of the high school with three grades. They're still going to run about 800 or more in the future (based on current enrollment at Fairlane Elementary and Central Elementary), so those six classrooms would hold them for a while."

The board also reviewed an update design plan for the new elementary school, which measures approximately 157,000 square feet.

"We're at the point where the site plan has settled down for the most part, and we need to engage the geotechnical engineer," Don Collins of engineering firm TTL, Inc. said. "Since we're doing so much cut, are we talking about cutting 10 feet of earth or 4 feet of dirt and 10 feet of rock? That information helps us determine whether we need to raise the school ... and that final elevation."

According to Haley McManigal of Cope Architecture, the full design process for the school is estimated to last another eight months and will be followed by fire-marshal approval and the bidding process.

"If things go well for (the Macon County Commission), by next summer we'll be ready to bid," board member Rebekah Tuttle said. "Honestly, it's time to stop talking and start doing. I think that's what needs to be communicated to the commission. By next summer, you need to have a plan to get this thing started."

The Macon County Board of Education's next regular session meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, at the school district's central office.

The board discussed the following items at its work session:

Red Boiling Springs School and Macon County Junior High School addition projects.

Cross country course.

New elementary school design.

Macon County Junior High School oven bids.

Bleacher hand rails.

Early graduation requestSchool audit bids.