Blount County school officials are trying to decide what to do about a $16,350 bill for resurfacing a Heritage High School gym floor that they say is inadequate after two attempts.
School board members debated whether to refuse to pay for the work or attempt to negotiate a settlement before tabling the topic during their meeting Thursday night.
Reached after the meeting, the owner of the flooring company said he would take the district to court if it doesn’t pay for the work.
Blount County Schools hired Finchum Sports Floors LLC of Seymour to refinish all five gym floors at its two high schools for $67,030 during the summer of 2016. Because the district said the job was unsatisfactory, Finchum refinished all five again this past summer at no additional charge.
“I wanted to to my best to please them,” President Larry Finchum said in a phone interview. Blount County wanted a water-based finish on the floors, and Finchum used a hybrid of oil and water the first time. Oil finishes will “amber” faster, giving the floor an aged look.
“I corrected everything they brought to my attention,” he said, including painting over droplets of paint the second time. Finchum said the call from a reporter was the first he heard the county still wasn’t satisfied.
Finchum said he has been in business more than 40 years, and “I’ve never had any problem with my customers’ satisfaction.”
During the school board meeting Gary Farmer, maintenance and facilities coordinator, said the three gyms at William Blount High School and auxiliary gym floor at Heritage are acceptable. “The main gym floor has several flaws,” he said.
“It’s not very good,” Heritage Athletic Director Robbie Bennett said. He and other school officials cited yellow areas, inconsistent width of painted lines and other flaws with the paint and finish.
Farmer and Bennett said the workmanship was not acceptable. “Our kids deserve better than what they got,” Bennett said.
Board Member Robbie Kirkland agreed that the floor looks terrible but said if the board didn’t pay, it would be sued. “Surely you’re not going to let them back on the floor,” he said.
Farmer said that the current floor can be sanded twice more before it would have to be replaced.
No work is expected to be done on the floor until after basketball season is over.
In other action the board members unanimously voted to retain the same officers elected last year, with Chair Debbie Sudhoff, Vice Chair Bill Padgett, who was absent Thursday, and Jim Compton as parliamentarian.
As part of Suicide Prevention Month, the district’s coordinated school health coordinator, Mary Beth Blevins, will be providing parent education sessions starting with one at the Blount County Public Library from 6:30-8 p.m. Sept. 14, followed by sessions at both high schools.
“We’re hoping for maximum parent participation,” Director Rob Britt told the board.
Technology Supervisor John Herron told the board the district soon will be opening a parent portal that will allow families to see which websites their students have been accessing with school-provided Chromebook computers.