KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas announced Tuesday that he and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs have come to an initial agreement that would waive all operating costs of a 15-year lease for the TVA East Tower.

Thomas said in a memo to school board members that waiving the operating costs assuaged his fears of what a move to the East Tower from the Andrew Johnson Building.

“Based on projected annual expenditures provided by the county, this would redirect approximately $15.8 million away from central office facility costs to student needs and educational initiatives,” Thomas said in the memo.

“Considering these latest developments and pending the completion of an agreeable (memorandum of understanding) … I support the relocation of central administration offices to the East Tower.”

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The memo goes on to say the initial lease could be extended beyond the initial lease. A county projection believes KCS could save $63.3 million over a 40-year period.

The savings come at a time when the school district is experiencing “critical service gaps,” according to Thomas. He suggested the savings could go to support programs that would combat substance-abuse, suicide ideation, trauma, anxiety and stress among Knox County students.

The deal could also consolidate KCS into the East Tower even more.

“Mayor Jacobs and I will continue to work together to explore options for centralizing school maintenance operations and to modernize warehouse processes through digitization of records,” Thomas said. “Such initiatives could potentially free up additional space, which in turn could allow for the sale of both the Knoxville Central Building and Fifth Avenue properties in the future.”