Drone footage of the temporary school buildings in Cobb Parr Park. Courtesy City of Covington

In a special called meeting held this week, the county school board members unanimously approved the implementation of interim structures for Crestview Elementary and Crestview Middle School. 

Director of Schools Dr. John Combs and Hunter Bennett presented the recommendations for the structures, concrete, and interior build-out, which received positive feedback from the board.


The first recommendation presented was for the interim buildings’ structure. 

The temporary structures in Cobb Parr Park began to take shape quickly after the March 31 EF-3 tornado ravaged both Crestview Elementary and Crestview Middle schools, but construction has since halted due to multiple issues.

First, it was the groundwater that came up after the layers of topsoil were removed from Baltzer Field, where the structures are located. Then they needed to ensure they were adhering to fire codes and school security measures while making the environment as comfortable for students and teacher.

“I want to make them as nice as we can make them for an interim structure,” said Combs.

Though there’s been some public criticism about the structures, and some suggestions to bus the 1,200 affected children to other schools, Combs said he wanted to keep those students and teachers together.

“Bussing logistics would be awful, even if we did have room for them at others schools, and want to keep them all together. I don’t want to send a kid on a bus from Covington to Drummonds. It’s a Covington community. I want to keep them here. I don’t want them spread all over the place.”

Combs said the target date for completion is still Aug. 1 and that he’s eager for the public to see the buildings.

“They’re going to be shocked at how much different it’s going to look than what they thought it was going to look.”

After careful consideration and evaluation of bids, the board awarded the contract to Sunbelt Rentals from South Carolina. 

The contract amount is $4.4 million for a 24-month lease, ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations.

The board then discussed the concrete requirements for the interim structures and approved Jay-Ton, a local vendor from Burlison. The contract amount for the necessary concrete work is $731,550.

The interior build-out of the interim structures was addressed next, and Service Master, a general contractor with prior experience working with the board, was selected to oversee this phase. 

The build-out contract is valued at $2,996,841 and includes the necessary interior modifications for functionality.

During the meeting, the board raised questions about the timeline and the difference between Service Master and another vendor, Barton. 

Combs explained that Service Master had a shorter timeline of 28 days compared to Barton’s 60-day timeline, and their nationwide network allowed for quicker project completion if awarded.

“They’re a nationwide franchise with the abilities to be able to pull and hit that timeline … They can get it done in half the amount of time, and we need to get rolling,” said Combs. “That’s one of the big things.”

Despite the progress made, funding for the interim structures remains a concern. 

Insurance does not cover relocation fees, and the board is heavily relying on FEMA reimbursement. A representative from FEMA assured the board that all requirements have been met and that they will work on securing 50 percent of the funding upfront. 

The reimbursement process is estimated to take 60 to 90 days, with monthly expenses covered for the next two years.

The board expressed confidence in the chosen vendors and the progress being made. However, they acknowledged the importance of addressing funding concerns. 

Dr. Combs commended the board members for their dedication and emphasized the need for swift progress with the interim structures.

“Making this decision allows us definitely to take the next steps,” Combs said.

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.