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Jonesborough back in school discussion

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

[email protected]

The new Jonesborough School design plan could send the school board in circles when it comes to the round portion of the Jonesborough Elementary School building.

Architect Tony Street presented the design plans for the Jonesborough school to the Washington County Board of Education and the Washington County Commission’s Health Education and Welfare committee during a joint meeting on Feb. 22. Street previously presented the first draft of the Jonesborough school design plan during the board’s called meeting on Feb. 13.

The $14.5 million school project includes the existing round portion of Jonesborough Elementary in addition to updates and add-ons, such as new classrooms and a media center.

But it was the round portion of the building that brought concern from school board member Mary Beth Dellinger.

“It was around 50 years ago when they built both of these round buildings,” Dellinger said. “And they had issues at the time. About 20 years ago, somebody had the good sense to build additional areas for them, like K-2 had…and now we’re going to ask them all — K-4 — to go back in that round building with smaller square-footage. They’re really not going to be better off. They’re going to be worse off than they are now.

“I don’t see how that’s moving forward for the Jonesborough people.”

School board member Keith Ervin asked if it would be possible to tear down the round portion of the building. Street said it would cost $6 to $7 million.

Street also said he felt the work they have discussed doing would be an improvement for the school.

“I think all of the classrooms are going to be adequate in size,” Street said. “All of them are going to be in the 800 to 900 square-foot range which is a very nice classroom for the number of students they’ll have in there. Is it going to be like a new classroom? I won’t stand here and tell you it is. But it will be a lot better than what it is now.”

If that portion of the plan is torn down, the entire Jonesborough K-8 project could be pushed back a year — in addition to the delay the board has already considered in interest of funding — which could land the school at a 2022 opening date. This would also saddle the academic lottery magnet school with the same delay.

“I don’t think, with the threats of charters and vouchers, that we can delay that magnet one more year,” Halliburton said. “We’re already delaying it out an additional year. We already have charters approaching surrounding counties. I’m concerned about delaying that magnet one more year and charters coming in here and offering what we’re not offering yet.”

The next board of education meeting will be Tuesday March 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the central office.