By Rick Wagner
BLOUNTVILLE – From heating and cooling systems, to ionization systems for air purification, to replacing heating and cooling systems and roofs, Sullivan County Schools have different plans for using the second round of the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Sullivan County Schools are targeting nearly $ 9.2 million in the second round of state coronavirus grants, including $ 4 million alone for the heating and cooling system at Sullivan Central High, which will become Sullivan Central Middle this fall should.
The Board of Education heard information about the system’s application for $ 9,176,960.79 under CARES 2.0 (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) at its February 25 working session.
“I think our needs are greater than the $ 9 million,” said BOE Chairman Randall Jones.
He, Vice Chairs Matthew Spivey and Michael Hughes said the system was having maintenance issues because the county commission removed $ 1.6 million in renovation and maintenance funds from the system’s county funding stream nearly two years ago.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN ITEMS TO BE FINANCED?
The CARES 2.0 application includes $ 4 million to repair the heating and cooling system (HVAC or heating, ventilation and air conditioning) at Sullivan Central High, which is slated to become Sullivan Central Middle this fall.
An additional $ 1.25 million would be used for catering services, which school principal David Cox said faced increased spending and decreased income during the accompanying pandemic and virtual schooling.
Nutritionist Amber Anderson said the system served 26,000 meals in August 2019, compared to 12,000 in August 2020, and lost $ 150,000 to missed a la carte sales during virtual school alone.
The BOE does not have to vote on the application and will not vote on the matter at all until the system receives grant money.
WHAT ABOUT MONEY FOR IONIZATION SYSTEMS?
Maintenance officer Charlie Hubbard said another line item was $ 400,000 to equip all schools with ionization systems that have fewer maintenance requirements than UV air treatment systems and that have worked well in surrounding schools in Tennessee and Virginia.
Kingsport City Schools is also looking for CARES 2.0 grants and has already started installing ionization systems.
Andy True, assistant superintendent of administration at KCS, said that Lincoln Elementary already has an ionization unit and that it will be installed at Johnson Elementary during the spring break.
“We were very pleased with what we saw in Lincoln,” said True.
Hubbard said other systems in the area are reporting allergies and breathing problems that have decreased in schools with ionization systems.
Of the funding that the Sullivan County system is seeking, it will account for $ 8,866,960.79 in 2021-22 and $ 310,000 in 2022-23. The money for the second year is for summer camp transportation, of $ 203,389.79 for this item in 2021-22.
WHAT OTHER ITEMS ARE ON THE LIST?
The other first year monetary amounts that Cox says will adjust to actual amounts granted include $ 300,000 for eRate programs to improve Internet access and $ 223,571 for care services and infrastructure.
Funding is needed to provide a nurse for summer camp, a four-week program over the summer that puts 45% of students on those who have the greatest learning loss and academic need, according to Angie Buckles, assistant principal.
For other building improvements as well as problems with heating, ventilation and air conditioning, the grant application is valid for:
• $ 600,000 to replace eight HVAC units at Sullivan South High, which will become middle school in August;
• $ 300,000 for a new cooler in South;
• $ 40,000 for rooftop units in Indian Springs;
• $ 650,000 for the Sullivan East High professional and technical roof;
• $ 100,000 to replace a 1980 carpet at Holston Elementary / Middle; and
• $ 800,000 for Professional Engineering HVAC in the East.