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Knox County Mayor calls for new West high school
Ragsdale's overcrowding task force proposes plan that includes funding but needs school board nod

The task force asked to study overcrowding in West Knoxville schools made their recommendations public Thursday, July 29 in the auditorium of Farragut High School. The group, led by Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, was made up of a mix of government officials, parents and Dave Hill, executive director of the Municipal Planning Commission. The committee’s findings drew applause from audience members, but their recommendation will go into effect only if approved by the Knox County Commission and the Knox County Board of Education.

Chuck James was the only school board member asked to participate on the task force. He represents West Knoxville-area schools and has vied for a solution to overcrowding since joining the board two years ago. "Instead of crawling, we’re running now," he said prior to the presentation of the group’s findings.

Backed by demographics data compiled by the MPC, Ragsdale proclaimed the need for a new high school to serve students in the West and Northwest areas of Knox County.

Ragsdale’s presentation ended with a plan to pay for the facility. Funds would come from money saved on county projects including $15 million initially slated to ease jail overcrowding, a problem Ragsdale said has been alleviated. Another $15 million pulled from funds earmarked for the new, downtown library. Federal funds have since been secured to help pay for the new library. Remaining funds would come from money budgeted by the school board to expand FHS and Karns High School. This plan would be in jeopardy if the proposed wheel tax is placed on the ballot and overturned by the public in November.

Ragsdale would not disclose the committee’s discussions about possible locations for a new school, except to say one possible site is on land adjacent to Pellissippi State Community College.

For complete coverage of the committee’s recommendations including community reaction, check out the August 5 edition of the farragutpress.


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