Johnson City Press: Jonesborough K-8 project, 'Scheme 6,' fails in split Washington County Board of Education vote

Jonesborough K-8 project, 'Scheme 6,' fails in split Washington County Board of Education vote

Jessica Fuller • Aug 9, 2018 at 11:51 PM

Three departing Washington County Board of Education members didn’t get to see a new Jonesborough K-8 project plan pass through the board before their final meeting Thursday night, as the seventh scheme to be presented to the board failed in another split vote.

Board member Todd Ganger presented the motion at the roundtable discussion at the end of a nearly three-hour board meeting, making the motion for “Scheme 6,” which was presented by architect Tony Street at the board’s July meeting.

As he made the motion, Ganger said he believed the board “owed it” to the three departing board members — Clarence Mabe, Mike Masters and Chairman Jack Leonard — to have another vote on the school project.

Mabe and Masters, who previously served the Third District, and Leonard, who represented the First District, were pushed from their positions due to redistricting by the county commission.

“This has been going on for over two years, probably more, I’ve lost count,” Ganger said after making his motion. “We’ve put a lot of time and effort into it ... Every issue has been addressed (with ‘Scheme 6’). I don’t see a reason not to approve it.

The plan for Scheme 6 includes a renovated Jonesborough Middle School with new flooring, a new ceiling, new lighting, new heating and air, new lockers and a new roof, plus a 64,000-square-foot addition to the building.

The motion in favor of Scheme 6 failed in a 5-4 vote, with members David Hammond, Mary Beth Dellinger, Annette Buchanan, Philip McLain and Keith Ervin voting against it.

Dellinger said she didn’t feel comfortable with the new scheme because she said she felt the cafeteria would be too small, echoing a concern from McLain after he learned at last month’s meeting that the cafeteria would be expanded by about 500 square feet to accommodate about 900 students proposed in Scheme 6.

Ganger pointed out that students wouldn’t eat at the same time and all of the students in the school wouldn’t have to fit in the cafeteria at once. Dellinger responded that with that many students, and not enough space to triple the size of the cafeteria, lunch would start at 10 a.m. for kindergarteners.

“To me, that’s a poor excuse not to accept this because our high school cafeterias are not that big and they funnel 1,200, 1,300 kids through there, the middle schools are doing it, they don’t have as big cafeterias,” Ganger said. “It will work.”

“I just don’t understand that every time we get another scheme put toward us, someone, within the five that keep voting the way that they do, comes up with another reason,” Leonard said. “It’s every time. The people in the community are tired of that, the kids at that schools are tired of waiting, the parents are too, and I’m afraid the County Commission will give that money away if we keep waiting.”

The newly elected board will meet Sept. 6 with new members Chad Fleenor, Jason Day and Mitch Meredith taking their first meeting.


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