New school ahead for Adrian Burnett

Sandra ClarkHalls, On the Grow

The long wait is over. Well, sort of.

On Monday, March 29, Knox County Schools celebrated groundbreaking ceremonies for replacement schools at Adrian Burnett and Lonsdale elementary schools.

(You know you’ve been doing this a long time when you were there for the opening of the school that’s about to be torn down.) In the early 1970s, the late Adrian Burnett represented Halls on the school board and Mildred Doyle was superintendent when they hatched the plan to build a temporary school on Brown Gap Road to relieve overcrowding at Halls Elementary.

It went up quickly – wood construction, no gym, a combo lunchroom/gathering place. The interior structure was minimal with “open classrooms” so teachers could team-teach. But the building was new. Halls Elementary principal Jim Prince and several of his veteran teachers moved to ABES, perhaps thinking it was temporary.

No one had anticipated the explosive growth of Halls and Powell. By the time a new Halls Elementary School was built on Andersonville Pike, there were enough kids to populate it without bringing over the kids from ABES. Earl Hoffmeister was the superintendent and Cecil Kelly served on the BOE.

Over time, temporary classrooms were added to the campuses of both schools. And during the tenure of Diane Dozier on the school board (1998-2006) expansions were made to Powell Middle and Halls Elementary and a new school was built at Brickey (renamed Brickey-McCloud). Knox County bought land on Tazewell Pike to build a replacement ABES, but that didn’t happen.

Rendering of the new ABES

Patti Bounds has represented the district from 2014-present. And she’s ecstatic that a new school is coming for Adrian Burnett. It was a top priority when she ran for office. “Over many decades the Adrian Burnett school community never lost the hope, dream and vision that was realized today,” she said.

The school will be built on the existing campus, behind the current school, which will be demolished. It will be a 94,000-square-foot building with capacity for approximately 800 students, and is expected to be completed prior to the fall semester of 2022.

It is estimated to cost $19.9 million. The architect on the project is Johnson Architecture Inc., and the general contractor is Merit Construction Inc.

The building will include:

  • 34 classrooms
  • 4 teacher work areas
  • 2 special education classroom suites
  • a music room
  • an art room
  • a library
  • a 7,100-square foot gymnasium, and
  • a storm shelter that will house approximately 935 occupants.

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