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Discussions continue on Cartwright Elementary

By ZOË WATKINS - zwatkins@t-g.com
Posted 12/6/22

Bedford County Board of Education met Thursday night to discuss updates on the design phase of the new Cartwright Elementary School. The new school will be located off Fairfield Pike and North Main …

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Discussions continue on Cartwright Elementary


Bedford County Board of Education met Thursday night to discuss updates on the design phase of the new Cartwright Elementary School. The new school will be located off Fairfield Pike and North Main Street (Highway 231 North) near the 437 Bypass.  

The construction manager is Bell Construction, and the architect is Kline-Swinney Associates. Jeff Sweeney will be the representative for Bedford County during the project.  

School board chair Michael Cook said, “We’re in a situation where we have a certain amount of money, and that’s what we plan on using. If we have to wait, we have to wait. We have to think about the County, about our taxpayers, about our kids . . . .The elementary school is the number one priority on our list, but we also have to be reasonable.”  

One of the biggest concerns discussed during the meeting was about road access to the elementary school.

“There’s a big security concern making that a public road, and if it becomes a through-road, the asphalt is not set up for that kind of traffic,” said Jeff Sweeney.  

Current plans show an access road built to the north of the property, connecting Fairfield Pike with Highway 231. This is so buses can come from either side of the city with the design of having student drop off/pick-ups in the vicinity of Fairfield Pike and Calsonic Way.

Architect Bart Kline said the road can either be made private or public. If made private, the school can have a locked gate and closed off at times. If made public by the City of Shelbyville, the asphalt will need to be made thicker to handle the increased traffic. This could add another $40,000 to the cost. Kline said they could put in speed bumps to ensure drivers obey the speed limit.  

BOE Superintendent Tammy Garrett said she would prefer to make the road private, saying public drivers would be in the school traffic while a threat, like a car bomb, could be imminent.  

Board member Brian Crews was preferrable making the road public so law enforcement could patrol the road.  

Community High School has a similar private road called Community X-ing, which connects Unionville-Deason to 41A.  

The board agreed to analyze which method— private or public—would be most cost effective and safe.  


Looking at other comparative school costs, building a school could cost around $300 per square foot. For example, Brentwood Middle School in Williamson County is estimated to cost $274 per square foot while Lewis County High School is estimated to be $353 per square foot.  

However, that cost will only continue to rise as building material costs continue to increase. Many “cosmetic” changes have been made to the original design plan in order to save costs, such as paint, sky-lighting, and outside overhangs.  

The board talked about moving maintenance rooms to the roof of the building to save space. However, school maintenance director Daniel Kleindienst said this would cause more wear and tear to the roof over time.  

At 113,000 square feet, the school is planned to hold over 800 students. The design of the new school can accommodate four more classrooms that can be added on later if needed. This would potentially cost around $1.3 million, according to Garrett.  

“We have spent hours designing, programmatically, what we need. It is my opinion that it is our job as a board and my job as superintendent to design a school that meets the needs of our students . . . . It’s time to move this project along to the County Commission,” said Garrett.  

The board is waiting for a “hard” number for the cost of the project. The project managers from Bell Construction said they will have a cost based on 50% of the drawings at the monthly BOE meeting on Dec. 15.  

The board needs to have the plans approved by their February meeting in order for the project to be completed by August of 2024, which is when the school plans to open.