Thorough Facility Inspections by TLM

For years, residents of Haywood County have been vocal about their opinion that the county needs new schools – or at least needs to make updates to the ones it has. But which issues should be tackled first? Haywood County Schools is taking steps to find out.

On March 11 of this year, at the school district’s “An Evening with HCS” event, Superintendent Joey Hassell said, “We currently don’t have a comprehensive assessment of existing infrastructure. So, when the mayor or Chairman Stephens says to me, ‘What are your priorities as far as your facilities?’ I couldn’t provide either of them a priority. I could provide them a wishlist, but I couldn’t provide a detailed plan.”

To change that, the school board approved, at its March 14 meeting, to move forward with a contract from TLM Associates, an architect and engineering firm in Jackson, for a facilities assessment.

“We will get priority focus on our facilities scored one through five, one being the most urgent,” Hassell said on March 11. He stated that the plan will take over a year to complete, but will be ready in time for budget considerations for the 2020-2021 school year. “As we start to build the budget for ’20-’21, we can actually say, ‘Here are some priorities.’ We can also, based on our needs, make decisions about which buildings are under-utilized, how we might move forward in that structure and also think about some cost-savings.”

Hassell said going ahead and making sure the school district is aware of its priorities is an important facet of preparing for growth. “As growth occurs with the Megasite – not if, but when – we’ll want to have a plan in place, whether it be a new high school facility or, what it might have to be first. To be quite honest, a K-5 facility in the area of our county near the Megasite… We want to have plans so when the opportunity comes…we can move dirt and not have to be slow in the process.”

At this meeting, the board was also asked to approve Lashlee-Rich, per (the only) bid, as the construction manager for short and long-term planning, as well as the completion of TLM recommendations if the proposal is approved. The board approved this measure.

Superintendent Hassell, Operations and Special Projects Executive Director Jeremiah Cavitt and Tyler Howell, Director of Facilities and Grounds Maintenance, met with TLM in April to discuss the assessment process.

Fast forward to the August 2019 School Board meeting where Tyler Howell, Director of Facilities and Ground Maintenance for Haywood County Schools spoke on structural concerns and their ranking on the urgency scale.  Tyler also explained the benefits of having the newly appointed certified HVAC specialist within the school system.

Buddy White and Ginger French of TLM spoke on their plan for capitol improvement and outlay for Haywood County Schools.  TLM of Jackson is in the business of creating places where people work, live, play, heal and learn.  Together with school board members, committee members, teachers, parents and the community a plan is in the making to better our learning environments.

This partnership kicked off  in October of 2018 as architects, engineers and planners began inspecting our schools for problems that need to be addressed.  They began with anything that would be considered catastrophic, such as a stair railing that could allow someone to fall and be injured, then moved to structural issues that could cause further damage to facilities such as roof leaks or drainage issues.  Following these two areas, they would move to HVAC inspections, inside renovation and making sure everything is in compliance with A.D.A.  TLM will ultimately present a Haywood County School System Facility Condition Assessment Report.

Superintendent Hassell spoke to everyone in attendance saying, “We will be taking this information and presenting it to the community.  We want to protect the investments that you made in us.”