Local officials and educators celebrated the completion of two multi-million-dollar school renovation and addition projects recently.
Ribbon-cutting festivities were held at Gene Brown and George Whitten Elementary schools on Dec. 17.
The projects were the culmination of a $67.5 million building improvement program approved in 2014 in which more than a dozen Sumner County schools saw upgrades, renovations and, in some cases, additions.
At Whitten, nine classrooms were added to the 45-year-old school building as well as two new restrooms, a CDC room, an exterior storage building and a new exterior canopy.
Whitten, located near Veteran’s Park in Hendersonville, also received many of the interior upgrades seen at other Sumner schools like new paint, LED lighting, flooring and ceilings.
Director of Schools Dr. Del Phillips noted the $4 million project eliminated the need for six portables at the school. Eliminating the use of portable buildings for classroom use has been a countywide goal of the Board of Education for several years, he added.
“We’re proud of what has happened here and all across the county,” said Phillips noting the rainy weather a day earlier.
“Yesterday was a prime example of not having to go outside to the portable back and forth with bad weather,” he added. “A lot of times I think we forget how that impacts the day.”
While around 60 portable buildings were used as classrooms in 2014, only a handful are used today.
County Mayor Anthony Holt, State Senator Ferrell Haile, Whitten’s first Principal and former Sumner County Commissioner Paul Decker, Board of Education Chairman Tim Brewer and Sumner County Commission Chairman Scott Langford were also in attendance.
“Thank you for sharing in this very happy moment for our school,” said Whitten Principal Rhonda Roach.
“My kids - this school deserves this,” said Roach. “This community deserves this. The memory of Mr. Whitten deserves this. Mr. Decker deserves this. There’s no way I can truly express my gratitude. I feel very blessed to be in this school – to be in this district.”
Officials gathered earlier the same day at Gene Brown where Principal Keith Parrack showed off that school’s $3.2 million renovation and addition. Built in 1955, the school is located on Imperial Boulevard and has undergone several changes over the years.
The most recent project includes four new classrooms, a new teacher work area, a new full clinic, an additional CDC room, revised administrative space, a new exterior basketball court, a new gym floor surface, an upgraded playground, and new infrastructure for technology. Interior renovations include new floors, painting, ceilings and LED lighting.
Boger Construction of Hendersonville was the contractor for both school projects.