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Hardin Valley school in limbo for 30 days
Knox County Commisssion fails to act on new school building budget woes

The question of whether the proposed Hardin Valley High School will house 2,100 students or 1,300 students will have to wait another 30 days.

Knox County Commission unanimously approved a motion by District 5C Commissioner John Griess to delay a decision on the matter 30 days, pending input from Knox County Board of Education regarding whether the school would be an academy and zoning who would go to the school.

The decision of the Commission to delay yet again disappointed many, including Farragut resident Virginia White.

“I just can’t believe they would postpone this in the face of all the facts,” she said. “Commissioner Griess has just delayed a new high school and the education of our children.”

“As a Knox County resident, I tell you we deserve better,” said Farragut resident Bill Johns. “We wouldn’t be in this spot if the Commission had been more proactive instead of reactive on the issue of


Newly-elected Knox County Board of Education 6th District representative Thomas Deakins, who was present for the decision, said Griess’ absences from town meetings concerning the high school led to his making an uninformed decision.

“I think it’s interesting how my own Commissioners talk about working together, but the motion from Commissioner Griess is shocking,” he said. “If Commis-sioner Griess would have attended meetings where we had talked about academy schools, then he would have known what the new high school is all about.”

Prior to the motion by Griess, Knox County Board of Education District 5 representative Karen Carson told Commissioners the new school would have “academy components” in it.

“I think to defer for another thirty days means the new high school will be delayed,” she said. “I’m disappointed the Commission went this way. All we can do is take this back to the Board, which will probably come back with the same information we have already given commissioners.”

The school discussion started with a motion from District 5B Commissioner Craig Leuthold, who fielded a motion that the school system should come up with $3 million for the project; and the county budget for the 2007-2008 fiscal year be amended so the county contributes $3 million to the project, making up the projected $6 million shortfall.

District 5A Commissioner Mike Hammond took up the cause and said he thought that would be a good idea.

“I’d like to extend an olive branch to the School Board and say we sit down and talk about the future of the children in Knox County,” he said. “I think the School Board has some work to do. I’d suggest a survey of the parents and students of the district to see who would want to go to the new high school. Let them know about how the zoning will be done.”

Hammond said he believed the savings from the school system could be brought about through programs, such as energy saver programs to cut the electricity costs in the system.

Commissioner John Mills questioned the funding for the new high school and wondered about the expansion of Carter Elementary School in his district.

“My concern is how far back will this slap Carter Elementary School,” he said. “When we voted for the forty million, that was supposed to be it.”

Knox County officials said the proposed $6 million should be spent for other needs across the county.

“I applaud the efforts to build a school for twenty-one hundred, except that we just passed a budget and there are other issues to be addressed across the community,” the county mayor said. “I question the wisdom of spending the money now when you have needs across the community.”

Commissioner Phil Guthe questioned Knox County Public Building Authority head Dale Smith about how the county had returned to debating the school questioned when it was supposedly already handled.

“I don’t really know how we got here, but we must move quickly,” Smith said.

Hammond pointed out to the Commission the continued growth in the county and the need for a new high school. He questioned Smith about if the county built the school for 1,300, what kind of cost increase could the county expect in a few years if they decided to expand the school.

Smith, who had told another commissioner it would take him a day or two to give a cost estimate, said it would probably be around three to four percent of the $40 million.


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