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Jonesborough K-8 'Scheme 3' plan fails Washington County school board vote again, original plan back on the table

Jessica Fuller • Jun 7, 2018 at 10:18 PM

In the face of another failed vote to select a design for the Jonesborough K-8 school, the original plan to renovate the current round portion of the elementary school made an appearance at Thursday night’s Washington County Board of Education meeting. 

While giving the Facilities Committee report, board member Todd Ganger followed suit from last month’s meeting and made a motion to accept the design that would renovate and build on to the building currently housing Jonesborough Middle School, known as Scheme 3. 

He said architect Tony Street came to the Facilities Committee meeting on Tuesday and cleared up that the plumbing would be replaced in Scheme 3, and the edge of the school would be about 60 feet from the track, two concerns that have been brought up in past discussions.

Street, who was present at the meeting, also reminded board members that these plans include the purchase of the McCoy property, 15 acres of empty land adjacent to the existing Jonesborough schools, but don’t include plans to demolish the existing Jonesborough Elementary building, which community members have called for in past meetings

Ganger pointed out that the empty Jonesborough Elementary could be used for things like meetings, banquets, graduations and could be used to house Midway and Asbury students if board members chose to combine those institutions as it’s been discussed in the past.

The motion failed in the same 5-4 vote it did last month, with board members Annette Buchanan, Keith Ervin, Philip McLain, Mary Beth Dellinger and David Hammond voting against it, leaving the board in the same stalemate. 

“We can’t get the schemes past the (Health, Education and Welfare) Committee except for Scheme 3, and again I question why the committee has that much power when it’s the full (County) Commission that has to make the vote,” Hammond said. “Are you willing to risk the weight of construction costs going up, and I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here, how much longer can we wait?

“I think we all agree we want a K-8 yesterday, we don’t want to wait. We’re really at a serious stalemate here. I would welcome any input here, we’re doing this from month to month.” 

After Scheme 3 failed again, Ganger made a motion for the original plan to renovate both Jonesborough schools and use any remaining money for renovating the stadiums at David Crockett and Daniel Boone high schools. Mike Masters seconded the motion.

Street said when he drafted the original plan it was going to cost about $10 million to do the necessary work on both schools. But since that plan hasn’t been considered in so long, he would need about six weeks to rework how much the original plan would cost plus the costs for renovating the stadiums.

McLain made a motion to table the discussion in order for Street to work the numbers, and that motion passed with McLain, Buchanan, Hammond, Dellinger and Ervin voting in favor of tabling the motion until a board member reintroduces it at a future meeting. 

After that vote, board member Clarence Mabe made a motion for Street to take another look at Scheme 2A, the cut-down version of the plan that would give students a brand new school. Both Scheme 2 and 2A are over budget and have been voted down by the Health, Education and Welfare Committee before, but Mabe asked for Street to go back and look for ways to get it within the $20.8 million budget set for the project. 

Street said he wouldn’t give up, but he let board members know it’s difficult to give them what they’re asking for within the budgetary parameters set by the county. 

“It’s tough to do another Boones Creek for $20 million,” he told board members. “If I had another $6 million, we wouldn’t even be here tonight. We’d be building somewhere.” 

The board passed the motion for Street to give Scheme 2A another look in addition to reworking figures for Scheme 1 and football stadium renovations. The board’s next scheduled meeting will be July 9. 

Email Jessica Fuller at jfuller@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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