The News Herald, True To Form
|We have all come accustom to the fact that the News
Herald rarely reports on anything of any importance. An occasional
wedding or birthday announcement, maybe a grand opening and once a year,
letters to Santa. But ever so often they try their hand at political
In the 1/15/09 edition someone from the News Herald staff took a shot at offering their view of the adopted building plan for Loudon County schools. Of course the op-ed was anonymous and likely for good reason.
The editorial from it's title and through out, attempts to have the reader believe that the adopted plan wasn't really the plan the board wanted even though it passed by a 7-3 margin. According to the editorial, the board rejected the director of schools proposal. This is of course wrong. The adopted plan includes a new K-12 school in Greenback. That was recommended by the director. The plan includes combining the old Loudon Elementary and Fort Loudon Middle School into one facility. That was recommended by the director. The adopted plan includes modifications/expansion to the cafeteria at Philadelphia. That was recommended by the director. The only difference between the adopted plan and the director's recommendation was the addition of a new middle school in Loudon rather than a K-8 facility.
While all ten board members and the superintendent had good ideas and suggestions for the building plan, we all knew that not every idea could be adopted. However we all pledged that whatever the final adopted plan was whether we individually voted for it or not, once adopted, we would all support it 100%.
It's unfortunate that the News Herald has made the decision not only not to be supportive of the adopted plan but to attempt to create dissention and division in the community over the adopted building plan with disinformation and out right lies. The News Herald should stick with wedding/birthday announcements and grand openings and leave the work of the people to those the people elected to do the work.
Below is the News Herald's editorial with my rebuttal (in blue) paragraph by paragraph and at the bottom of the page is the uninterrupted editorial. Was the News Herald helpful or hurtful? You be the judge.
School building plan creates tension on board
Superintendent’s proposal pushed to the side
Loudon County School Board officials finally reached a decision on a county-wide building plan that was approved by a majority vote, even though it appears not every “aye” carried with it full support of the plan. It calls for approximately $35 million to be spent building and renovating the schools in the system.
Some school officials and board members, led by Superintendent Wayne Honeycutt, had advocated building pre-kindergarten through eighth grade schools, though that idea was put aside when board members voted in favor of a modified plan that included a separate middle school.
Board member Gary Ubben, who voted against the plan, said according to some parents, middle schools are favored by some in the community because it creates a situation more conducive to middle school football programs.
“Are we about to spend $17 to $20 million for a middle school farm team? “ he asked during the meeting.
Athletics are important, but they are only one aspect of public academics, and may not be the best gauge for determining building needs.
Some school board members publicly stated they believed the pre-k through 8 model was better for the county, but voted in favor of the other plan because of pressure from parents who requested a middle school.
Board member Larry Proaps said he felt obligated to give the voters what they want in a building plan even though he favored a pre-k through grade 8 model.
The plan that was approved was not the only one on the table during the meeting, though it was the only one considered. Board member Van Shaver presented his plan ahead of Honeycutt’s, and its passing prevented discussion and a vote on the superintendent’s ideas.
County Commissioner Wayne Gardin questioned whether the board even entertained what Honeycutt had to offer.
Honeycutt was hired to lead the school system and his proposal should have at least been given some consideration.
Educators, administrators and people in the community have strong feelings about all aspects of their children’s educations, including what type of building should be used. There are many systems that work, though some may work more efficiently than others.
One argument in favor of pre-k through grade-8 schools revolves around the idea that smaller schools build stronger communities. The amount of students in each grade remains lower when they are spread out among several schools, instead of being centralized together in middle school.
According to Ubben it has also been proven that students do better academically when they are not asked to switch campuses as often.
“The first year after a child moves to a new school their tests scores drop,” he said.
The anxiety of switching schools and adapting to a new environment make it more difficult for children to adjust, he said.
Which model is best remains in question, though it seems clear that members of the school board may not have voted on what they thought was best in every case. How much influence they had from members of the community and fellow board members is also unclear. They apparently were swayed enough to not only vote in favor of a middle school, but also to abandon the opinion of Honeycutt without the benefit of putting his plan to a vote.
Only after his plan was officially rejected by a vote in the meeting should the board members have moved on to consider other options.
The actual plans for the school system are still not completely ready to go before the commission. County Commission members who attended the meeting said it is necessary to provide the commission with actual figures before they can vote on it. The commission will have the final say on what gets built with county funds