By SERINA MARSHALL
After years of preparation, the Town of Jonesborough is getting a new K-8 school, and the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday made it official.
“We started talking about this project 2 ½ years ago and I think the coronavirus added about six months onto it,” Mayor Chuck Vest said. “I got to meet with Curtis Lynn several times at his barn; this is his land. This is important to him. I think if he didn’t have the heart for the community, we wouldn’t have closed on this property.”
The discussion surrounding the possibility of a new school goes back before Washington County’s Director of Schools Jerry Boyd, began his role.
“When I was hired, this discussion had been going on for many years prior,” Boyd said. “Several iterations of what was to be done in Jonesborough. Whether to renovate or ultimately, obviously, the decision was to build a new school. All that past dialogue paid off and I certainly believe it was the best decision for the community.”
Three entities worked together to bring the idea to fruition: the Washington County Board of Education, Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Washington County Commission.
Officials also cite strong support from the community, including parents and students within the school system.
In September, the Washington County Commission granted final approval to spend $42.75 million on the school project.
“I am most excited about all three of our government (entities) and the parents, really all coming together really pushed this forward to make it successful,” Vest said.
At the Nov. 9 groundbreaking, representatives from all bodies were present to watch their deliberations and plans become reality.
“I know exactly when I found out about this project. It was August 15, 2019,” Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy said. “It’s been like a miracle. Because it’s taken over 30 elected political people coming together and working, more or less, hand in hand on a project that truly has a lot of merit in making it happen.”
Wayne Woods from Burleson Construction said that “in the end everyone will have a new school that they can be proud of.”
In addition to officials, Jonesborough students, including future students of the new school, along with their parents, arrived showing their school spirit and ready to shovel.
“These are our future doctors, our future mayors and at one point in time this looked like a very grim idea, that this wasn’t going to come to fruition,” parent representative Kerrie Aistrop said. “There’s so many people we want to thank. To the Town of Jonesborough, you have no idea what it means to me. You have the same passion, and you wanted our kids to have better. To have three governing bodies to come together to say, ‘Yes’ for these kids is nothing short of a miracle. No one gave up.”
According to Vest, the school is set to open to students for the first semester, August 2023.