Here's Why Not

We keep reading these stories that the Loudon County School Board is thinking of building one or maybe two new schools on the north end of the county. And that they're currently looking at land options for new school(s). Well, here's why that's not going to happen any time in the near future.

The board has formed a three member committee to explore the possibilities of a new school. That committee is comprised of Dr. Professor Ubben from the 5th District, Dr. Music Best from the 6th District and Not a Dr. Craig Simon from the 7th District.

Unfortunately, the board does have enough money in their fund balance to throw away another million or two on more land they'll never use. Recall, they still have the 80 acres on Hwy 321 they paid 2.2 million for that they can't give away now. So, it's not out of the realm of possibility they could do it again. But that's as far as they could ever go. That's just chump change to what it would cost to actually build and staff a new school.

Let's say the new school they build is about the same size as the new Fort Loudon Middle School. That one cost around 14 million dollars. That would require about a 10 cent property tax increase to make the debt payment on the new building.

Loudon County currently has 9 schools with a total budget of about 43 million dollars. So do the math and that comes to each school staffing and operational costs of about 4.7 million per school per year. Let's round down and say this new school only costs 4.5 million dollars to operate per year. That would require an additional 42 cent property tax increase.

That's a total 52 cent property tax increase to build, staff and operate a new school. There would be no new money coming from the state since there would be no new students attending the new school. Thank goodness the school board doesn't have the authority to raise your property taxes. That can only be done by the county commission. While I certainly don't speak for the full commission, I'd say it's a pretty safe bet there's not a majority of commissioners who would ever vote for a 52 cent property tax increase.

And there's one other problem when talking about the need of a new school. The Loudon County school system student enrollment has decreased by about 500 since the board voted back in 2012 to stop taking out of county students.

In review, enrollment down, a 52 cent property tax increase would be needed to build, staff and operate a new school. This is why it's not going to happen.

I don't doubt the day may come when Loudon County might need a new school or two but it won't be any time in the near future. So for now, I would suggest to Dr., Dr. and Not A Dr. not to spend a whole lot of time and energy on this study. But if a sudden urgency were to arise, they've always got their 80 acres to fall back on.