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Committee approves school facilities study


Staff Writer

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The Washington County Commission Health Education and Welfare Committee is officially ready to move forward with a school facilities plan.

At the Wednesday, Oct. 4 meeting, the committee unanimously approved a proposal to conduct a ten-year facilities plan that would result in recommendations for renovation, modernization, replacement and new construction needs for the Washington County School District.

“It really brings an outsider in,” Commissioner Tom Krieger, who presented the proposal for the school facilities plan, said. “You know the old saying, ‘you cant see the forest for the trees.’ — we’re amongst the trees, so we can’t see it. But someone from outside can come and take a look. That’s what I’m hoping we can do.”

Should it be approved by the commission, the study would be conducted by Jessee Register, the Director of the center for the Improvement of Educational Systems at Belmont University. The proposal states the plan will not exceed $60,000 in consulting fees and expenses.

At the meeting, Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton explained that the Washington County Board of Education hired Register as a consultant to help with strategic planning for the district. Because the board has already entered into a partnership, a memorandum of understanding with Register clarifies that the cost would only entail specialists’ fees and expenses.

The proposal would be complete by April 21, 2018 and would be followed by a presentation and recommendations from Register, given results from the study.

Krieger said once the study is complete, the school board would either accept or reject those suggestions as they choose. From there, it would be “up to the commission to fund any outcomes from the study.”

Krieger also said the county would shoulder the cost and that the commission could possibly take money out of the general fund to pay for the study.

He also said the county had a study and master plan that was completed in 2012.

“At that time, annexation was still going on when Johnson City was annexing places and no one knew what was going to be annexed and how long it would take,” Krieger said. “That study also indicated a gain in student enrollment. Instead of that happening, the opposite happened.

“As an outgrowth of that study, it recommended a new school for Boones creek, a K-8, and it recommended a new school for Jonesborough, among other things. So we’re using some of those figures to get launched.”

The next HEW committee meeting will be held on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. in the first floor conference room in the historic courthouse in downtown Jonesborough.