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County Mayor Ragsdale addresses school board

Mayor Mike Ragsdale appealed to the Knox County Board of Education Tuesday, Aug. 16, with his solution to ease school overcrowding in West Knox County.

The plan offers $27 million — a combined sum of Wheel Tax monies earmarked for a new downtown library and monies set aside for improvement to the Knox County Detention Center — in county money to pay for a new school. Its funding is contingent on the passing of the Wheel Tax.

The remaining $7 million of the $34 million outlined in Ragsdale’s plan would be pulled from funds budgeted to improve Karns and Farragut High Schools.

Board member Brian Hornback expressed his concern regarding the possible delay of FHS improvements.

“Farragut needs their ten additional classrooms now,” he said.

Yet, even with the KHS and FHS improvement funds, additional money would have to come from somewhere.

According to Knox County Schools superintendent Dr. Charles Lindsey, early estimates set the price tag of a new school at about $40 million.

Some board members were quick to share their intention of voting against the new school if other school projects were jeopardized.

Board member D.M. Miller expressed concerns about using money slated for KHS for necessary improvements.

“I don’t know how we’ll replace those funds,” he said.

According to Ragsdale, the same is true for school funds generated from the Wheel Tax. He noted a misconception as to how the tax revenue would be utilized. “The Wheel Tax goes far beyond education,” he said.

Mike Arms, Ragsdale’s chief of staff, suggested that a “laundry list” be developed for the public detailing how the money generated from the Wheel Tax would be used.

The school board moved to discuss the issue at its September workshop, when newly elected school board members will be present.


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