Hamilton County commissioners voted Thursday to approve a construction bid for a new Ooltewah Elementary School, but only after a few made sure all their bases were covered.
The $21.4 million bid by Hickory Construction, located in Alcoa, Tenn., was approved by Hamilton County School Board members Tuesday. Before their unanimous vote, a handful of commissioners sought to make sure there would be no unknown elements of the deal that would come back to trouble them in the future, alluding to potential situations similar to the fallout from their approval of an architect for a new East Brainerd Elementary School, which was halted in the midst of a controversial land swap deal last week.
Commissioner Greg Beck asked if the bid had been properly announced to commission members. Commissioner Tim Boyd asked for the construction company's history of working on school projects and Commissioner Joe Graham asked Superintendent Rick Smith specifically if there were any hidden components of the approval he wasn't aware of.
"My question is, what are we missing?" Graham said. "It seems like in our last meeting about schools, we found out later in the newspaper about what was going on. There's nothing else we need to be made aware of?"
"No, sir," Smith replied.
Commissioner Fred Skillern asked Assistant Superintendent Gary Waters for a comparison in cost per square foot between the new Ooltewah Elementary and the price paid for construction of the new East Ridge Elementary School. Waters said the difference was $34 per square foot.
Commissioners unanimously approved the bid.