Sullivan school board expands construction manager to both new schools

Rick Wagner • Oct 3, 2018 at 12:09 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County’s school system will hire a full-time but temporary construction manager to help Maintenance and Facilities Supervisor Charlie Hubbard oversee construction on West Ridge High School and Sullivan East Middle School, the school board decided unanimously Tuesday night.

The agenda item originally was a recommendation from Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski, at Hubbard’s request, to create the position of a contracted construction manager for the high school, set to open in 2020. Hubbard is the project manager of both schools and proposed to be the construction manager of the middle school, set to open in the fall of 2019. 

However, the board ultimately approved a motion by Mark Ireseon, seconded by Jane Thomas, to amend the proposal to allow the new employee, not yet chosen or hired, to be construction manager for both schools as needed and report to Hubbard. The new employee could be used on either school at Hubbard’s discretion, school board members said.

“I personally don’t see a need for two,” Chairman Michael Hughes said.

Thomas said, “I think we need fresh eyes on our middle school as well.”

Ireson’s amendment came after Thomas made a motion to create two positions, a construction manager for each school, but after discussion she withdrew the motion. Ireson seconded her motion. The board approved both the Ireson amendment and then the question on the proposal as amended both 7-0. Thomas said she does not plan to put the question of a second construction manager strictly for the middle school before the board.

“I’m all right with this,” Thomas said of the Ireson amendment after the meeting.

The position will not have benefits, meaning no health insurance and no retirement, as discussed at the board’s Thursday work session.

When questioned by Ireson, Hubbard said that two separate positions might be better for the board, although he said the down side is that the 700-student middle school project is to be done a year earlier than the 1,700-student high school, and thus that job wouldn’t last as long.

On the other hand, he said having one person helping with both schools could move the process along if a problem found in the middle school is predicted and fixed before it becomes a problem, something he said already has happened. If the right person is found and takes the job, Hubbard said he would prefer one construction manager instead of two.

“Charles Hubbard is a fabulous employee,” Thomas said, adding that he has his hands full with two building projects and maintenance across the school system. “These schools have got to last for a long time.”