BOE Building Plan Passes

The much anticipated, long awaited building plan for the Loudon County School System passed it's first hurdle at Thursday's board of education meeting. The plan which includes two new schools and several renovations in phase one and a new school in phase two passed the board vote by a 7-3 margin. Only board members Bill Marcus, Gary Ubben and Leroy Tate voted against the plan. 

Phase one of the plan will include a new Pre K -12 school in Greenback, a new 6-8 middle school in Loudon, combining Loudon Elementary and Fort Loudon Middle into a Pre K - 5 and expansion or replacing the cafeteria at Philadelphia. Phase two of the plan which will commence on completion of phase one will include a new middle school in the north end of the county which will relieve over crowding at all three north end schools. 

Based of information from various architects and engineers the going rate for new construction is in the $100-$125 per sq. ft. range. Under that assumption rough estimate costs could be in the 30-35 mil. range. Of course this could change up or down depending on what the architect/engineers tell us. This plan should also reduce operating cost across the board. The plan will also take care of student growth in the county for many, many years.

Four county commissioners were in attendance at the meeting including Don Miller, Wayne Gardin, David Meers and Austin Shaver. Commissioner Gardin stated after the meeting that he opposed the plan and will work to defeat it. Other commissioners were more supportive.

The next big hurdle for the plan will be to gain support of the county commission, the funding body for the county. Director of schools, Wayne Honeycutt is set to present the plan to commission at their next workshop.

1st phase of Loudon school building passes

But Loudon school board rejects idea to change model

Hugh G. Willett,

LOUDON - The Loudon County school board on Thursday night passed the first phase of a new school building program that rejected a proposed move to a countywide preschool-through-eighth-grade model.

The plan, estimated at about $35 million, includes building a new sixth-to-eighth-grade middle school on property next to Loudon High School.

It will also include a new pre-K-through-12th-grade school in Greenback and the combination of Loudon Elementary and Fort Loudoun Middle School into a single, pre-K-through-fifth-grade school joined by a new cafeteria and office building. A new cafeteria is also planned for Philadelphia Elementary.

The long-awaited plan was passed on a 7-3 vote and killed the proposed transition to a pre-K-through-eighth-grade school model recommended by Schools Director Wayne Honeycutt and several board members.

The model was touted for increasing student performance and reducing administrative staff but was controversial in that it might have required zoning of children into specific school districts.

"I favor the pre-K-to-eight model, but the people say they want the middle school," board member Larry Proaps said.

Board member Gary Ubben, a professor of education at the University of Tennessee, made a strong presentation in favor of the change, explaining the benefits of increased student performance because of the reduction in transitions from one school to another.

"The board is countermanding the direction of the professional educators," he said.

The plan will now go to the Loudon County Commission for funding.

Commissioner Don Miller said he and other commissioners will be looking at the total cost of the project as well as the ongoing operating expenses.

Commissioner Austin Shaver said he believes the proposal approved by the school board is the most reasonable plan based on the needs of the county.