Superintendent Dr. Craig Ross Breaks Down Garden City Elementary’s Current State


CULLMAN – Cullman County Schools superintendent Dr. Craig Ross addressed the current state of Garden City Elementary, including cost breakdown, in a press release issued Wednesday afternoon.

Below is the complete press release from Dr. Ross:

The structural assessment of Garden City was done by Advance Structural Design Inc. We appreciate the work that Mr. Jeff Hillman performed for us. Mr. Hillman is a registered professional engineer. In Mr. Hillman’s assessment of Garden City School he found five areas with life-safety concerns.

1. The girl’s restroom: In its current state, the floor framing system, and the exterior foundation wall, is near catastrophic failure. Please note that failure, and repairs, will probably affect both adjacent rooms.

2. The northwest corner classroom: The ceiling joists, in their current state, are near failure. A single joist connection failure could result in a cascading effect of multiple ceiling joist failures.

3. Gymnasium—Stage Area: Both the southeast and the southwest corner are near a state of collapse. The vertical wood framing members (studs supporting the stage floor) are severely deteriorated.

4. The wood landing and stair–south face of the main building: The landing and stair is near catastrophic failure.  The wood landing and stair–east side of the gymnasium: The landing and stair is near catastrophic failure.

5. It appears that the western half of the north exterior wall is experiencing excessive settlement. I recommend that further investigation be pursued to determine the cause of the settlement, and, if the further settlement can be prevented. Additional settlement could present structural issues and/or life-safety issues.


St. John and Associates Engineering firm was hired to assess the civil engineering. Their recommendations were:

1.     Grade around the school will need to be lowered to allow the foundations to drain.  This will require a large amount of grading and foundation drain around the building.  

2.     Additional storm piping off-site will also be required. Storm pipe easements from adjacent property owners will be needed.  Grading estimated at $30,000.00, storm pipe, foundation drainage estimated $40,000.00 replacing curbing, flumes, asphalt and landscaping estimated $40,000.00.  

3.      Total estimated cost would be $110,000.00 and could increase.


The following information is referencing the estimated cost of repairing Garden City Elementary School.

Initial Contractor’s estimate for building repair – $650,000

Civil Engineering to correct water/drainage problem – $110,000+

Removal of Mold – $50,000+

Architectural and engineering fees – $75,000

Total Estimated Cost – $885,000

In regards to the structural assessment of Garden City Elementary School it is important that we state that the full assessment of the damage cannot be fully determined unless more invasive destructive testing occurs. However, the extensive damage to the building is such that the initial estimates need to be discussed by the Cullman County Board of Education before spending any additional tax dollars on testing. The total estimated cost of repairing Garden City Elementary School therefore cannot be determined until such time as the additional testing is done. The above figure is simply the initial estimate.

In the upcoming months the Cullman County Board of Education will work through the details of this situation. The Cullman County Board of Education is committed to working through this difficult situation and listening to all concerns of the community to ensure that they reach a conclusion that is best for Cullman County students.

Please voice your thoughts and concerns by emailing Dr. Ross and the Board of Education at the email address below.

Dr. Craig A Ross