By MARINA WATERS
When the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen comes face to face with the Washington County Commission and the Washington County Board of Education next week, they won’t just be there to talk.
Instead, they plan to arrive with a possible solution to the Jonesborough School project fiasco.
“We’re not going to make a presentation next week to talk,” Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest said about the upcoming meeting. “We’re going to make a presentation that we hope brings a solution to the forefront and we can get moving on Jonesborough.”
The three entities plan to meet at the McKinney Center at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15, to come up with a solution for the Jonesborough School project dilemma that has plagued the commission and school board for over two years.
The project has seen numerous design plans, split votes from the school board, disapproval on design plans from county committees, unending questions on a funding plan for the project and meeting after meeting filled with frustration for school and county officials as well as parents and community members.
So why is the town getting involved?
Vest said the town has an economic interest in a Jonesborough K-8 School. He also said he felt the school is a large part of the Jonesborough community.
“A quality school is important to the town,” Vest said. “Economically it definitely has an impact on people to move to our area. It’s also a big part of our community. We almost all went to school there ourselves and we feel like there’s somewhat of an impasse between the county commission and the school board. We’re thinking our voice could help all the parties come to a better solution.”
Vest refused to comment on the specifics of what will be presented at the meeting, but said he and the BMA hopes to bring a suggestion to get the project moving.
“I don’t think we’re that far off (from a solution) just from talking to some of the county commissioners and school board members,” Vest said. “I know there are a lot of members on those boards who want something good for Jonesborough and also for the smaller schools in the county. The interest is there from everybody. I think it’s just maybe changing up the way it’s been discussed. We can come to a solution.”
Vest said he felt getting the Jonesborough School project off the ground would not only help the community, but that it will allow a focus to be shifted to other schools throughout the county.
“In my eyes, if we can get Jonesborough’s school situation resolved, it will also help these other smaller schools like West View and Sulphur Springs,” Vest said, “because the sooner we can move our focus from Jonesborough, we can put our attention towards those other schools in the county that need help as well.”
Not only is the BMA hoping to offer a solution to the commission and school board, but the Jonesborough mayor said the town is hoping to change the perception around the Jonesborough School discussion.
“I went to those same schools that they’re talking about,” Vest said. “I’ve got a personal interest in that as well. My daughter goes to the Jonesborough schools and I’ve got family that goes there. So when you see that discussion out there, it kind of pains you a little bit to see Jonesborough talked about in somewhat of a negative light.
“Even though we’ve got wonderful teachers there, there’s a perception from the outside by visitors is not as strong as it should be. It’s to the town’s benefit to help come up with a solution to our school situation.”