Today is Monday, August 21, 2017

LSSD's new central office now in operation

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The new Lebanon Special School District central office is now in operation on North Castle Heights Avenue and the LSSD director said this move is part of the district's long-range growth plan to accommodate predicted burgeoning growth.

There's a ribbon cutting and open house planned for July 25 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the new central office that was the former Pinnacle Bank building that had been empty for eight years.

Director Scott Benson said administration and staff moved into their new, renovated 11,150 square foot building a couple weeks ago. Their former central office was 5,500 square feet at the corner of Castle Heights and Coles Ferry Pike.

"We had been out of room and overloaded for a long time," Benson said. "There just wasn't enough room."

Benson said they bought the bank building about a year ago for $1.7 million from Pinnacle after a year of negotiation.

"We had an extensive renovation, because it was built to be a bank," Benson explained.

The total renovation and purchase topped at about $3 million, according to Benson. He said if they had to build from the ground up, "It would not be nearly as nice as this is and more expensive."

There are 21 offices in the new location that has two floors. There are four conference rooms and one boardroom, as well as eight rest rooms, a reception area and multiple waiting areas.

"We even use the original bank vault for extra storage," Benson said.

As a second prong to this move, the former LSSD central office will now house the district's Wee Care program for facultys' babies, which formerly were housed at Castle Heights Elementary School.

"This will open up 10 more classrooms at CHES," said Benson. "This is proactive to get ready for the growth that's coming to the district."

The former central office will also house technology and other needs. Benson said the school year will start with Wee Care still at its original space and that move to the former Central Office will be most likely during Fall break this year.

Benson said currently within the Lebanon city limits, there are "8,000 units or lots," under construction.

"We need to make sure we are prepared for this and have classroom availability," he said.

Another move to tackle growth was the purchase by the district of 57 acres at the corner of Hartman Drive and Coles Ferry Pike for a future new school.

"It was proactive to purchase this property and there is a lot of talk in administration about a future new school," Benson said. "We are just in initial stages of contemplation."

He said initially when the district bought the property talk was of a five to 10-year plan for a new school, but now "less than five years," is the prediction.

The district's Pre-k through 8th grade has an enrollment of 3,700 students now with about 50 new students each year, but the director said soon that number will soar with all the new construction in the district.

Benson's assistant director is Nancy Ash.

"It has been very hectic," Benson said of the now completed move to the new central office. "We are very excited and think it's going to be very functional for us. We paid less than the tax card amount for it."

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