As Greenback School prepares to reopen today
following a nearly weeklong closure to detect
and seal gas leaks, some Loudon County parents
and school board members say it's past time for
making short-term repairs.
An inspection last week found no major issues
with the lines but recommended some
modifications to classroom heating units and
replacement of a gas water heater, according to
school board member Van Shaver.
"(The school board was) pleased to get the
report from the gas line/appliance inspection
and that it was no worse than it was," Shaver
said. "At least we know the system is safe."
The problem with such temporary inspections
and repairs is that they waste limited resources
on an aging facility that should be demolished,
Shaver, who is running for Loudon County
mayor, said he believes upgrading educational
facilities across the county is a priority not
just for the school board but also for the
entire county. County commissioners have
discussed pursuing a school building program.
"I hope County Commission will fund the
entire first phase of the building program so
that we can begin to upgrade the educational
infrastructure in Greenback and across the
county," he said.
About 650 children from kindergarten level
through high school attend the school, the
oldest parts of which date to 1939. A number of
gas leaks have plagued the school, the most
recent on Jan. 6.
Greenback parents also would like to see the
commission fund the building program. About 75
parents and local residents met Friday to talk
about the school.
"The main concern is the delay in the
building program," said Greenback parent Ron
Sabo, who added that his goal is to get as many
people as possible involved in the effort to
improve county schools. "I sense that people
want to get involved."
Among those getting involved is Ken Wahl, a
retired teacher and school administrator who
said he and his wife decided to start attending
parent meetings in Greenback because of concern
for the students.
"I live in Greenback, but even if it was a
school in Lenoir City that was in this bad a
shape, I would still get involved," he said.
Wahl thinks the problem lies with county
commissioners who don't want to spend money on
schools that are not in their districts.
"I think it's one big political mess," he
Wahl said he is concerned that the recent
work on the gas lines at Greenback is just a
patchwork effort. There are other concerns about
the structural integrity of the building as well
as mold and carbon monoxide problems that would
best be addressed with a new school, he said.
Greenback parents will hold another meeting
at the school gymnasium 6 p.m. today. On
Wednesday morning, the school board's
maintenance committee will tour the school to
discuss the recent problems.