|Earlier in the week, I ran a story about
political opinions, the good and the bad. The
crux of the story was to know the line between offering an opinion or
inflicting an opinion. Inflicting ones opinion on others means that you
feel your opinion is supreme to all others and no one else's opinions
have any validity. Case in point.
school board and the county commission has been approached by two
couples who were interested in the school board's budget operations and
the schools building program. They've addressed the school board and
commission, they met with school board members, myself included, in
order to educate themselves on numerous local issues including the
building program. All good and prudent actions to get up to speed with
happenings in local government.
Unfortunately, it's been down hill from there. Their
quest has now degenerated into an anti Greenback, stop Phase 1 of the
building program. But, that's OK too. They have every right to their
opinion pertaining to the building program. Problem is, they have now
decided their vision of what the school system needs is the only option.
Seems not to matter what anybody else thinks.
So, they bring their ideas to the board. The first
initial plan was to by mobile homes from Clayton's Mobile Homes and pull
them from school to school as needed. Then it was to bus the Greenback
kids to Lenoir City and Loudon County schools and drop the Greenback
building. Now they've decided the best idea would be to eliminate the
Greenback High School portion of the building and bus the high school
kids to Loudon. Not sure where we'd put them but that's their latest
Their proposals have met with little support from the
school board or commission. So now they've begin a petition campaign to
push their agenda. Sadly, they decided to use false and misleading
information in their petition.
These folks have claimed to be representatives of the
Tea Party, but their tactics seem much more in line with left wing
liberal progressive tactics. They claim to know what's best for everyone
and demand that their opinions rein supreme and if that doesn't work,
use propaganda, misinformation and disinformation in an attempt force
their opinion on everyone.
Below is the information included in their petition
and a rebuttal to each of their statements as provided by board members
and the director.
I completely support differences of opinion on any
topic but misleading folks is just wrong.
PET I T ION TO NOT RAISE LOUDON COUNTY TAXES
We, the undersigned voters of Loudon County,
have several concerns about the proposed school building program
hereby formally petition the Loudon County
Commission to defer voting for said proposed building program
and the tax
increase to fund it, until such time as a
formal Committee; to be appointed by the Mayor and comprised of
members of the
public, County Commission, and Board of
Education, have made their final recommendations regarding these
The number of members from the public on said
Committee shall exceed the number of elected officials on the
Members of the public to be eligible to serve
on the Committee shall not be currently compensated by state or
government for any reason. The members from
the public who volunteer to participate shall be chosen by
represent each district in the county. A
PARTIAL list of our concerns about the proposed school building
detailed in Exhibit “A”, attached.
Please call Katie P. Schnell at 816-3909 to
collect this petition when it has been completed. Thank you!
(Tellico Village Residents, please call
Pandora Vreeland at 458-3141, mailbox #3 when it has been
completed. Thank you!)
Petition Statements in black, responses in red.
are concerned that there were no public hearings about the
scope and size of the proposed schools program until after
they were drawn.
(A) The Board
of Education has had 24 public meetings since January 2009
to discuss these issues. Any member of the public was
welcome to attend any of these meetings and comment.
School enrollment is declining. Current enrollment is
650 and 63 of those are from out of county. They are at
72% of capacity in their school of 78,000 sq. ft.; yet,
the new school plans are for a new 145,568 sq ft.
school. Lenoir City High has 1,243 students and with
138,566 sq. ft. they are at 80.3% capacity? Why is such
a huge, oversized school proposed in Greenback,
especially when enrollment is declining?
Enrollment has been stable over the past several years.
In fact, we believe that we have only 4 fewer students
now than we did 10 years ago. This can be attributed to
the out of county policy. In addition to this we have 5
included in the 78,000 sq. ft.,
at Greenback School where 9 classrooms are located to
educate students outside of the normal school building.
There are only 47 non employee out of county students at
Greenback, 2010-2011 school year.
has now adopted a policy that does not permit any out of
county students to enroll in Loudon County schools.
are concerned that the Greenback High students are not
receiving a broad, curriculum-rich education yet, the
one they receive costs taxpayers $925,000 per year for
high school teacher salaries, coaches salaries and
supplements (not including benefits.) One teacher to 9.6
students on average at Greenback High versus Loudon High
with one teacher to 14.5 students. Loudon High offers
more courses and is far more cost efficient per student.
Student teacher ratio's are GBS 11.8 and LHS 13.5. We
provide an appropriate education to all of the students
in Loudon County affording them the opportunity to earn
a high school diploma according to state of Tennessee
standards. And based on other test scores, Greenback
students perform as well or better than students in
other high schools.
The petition seems to indicate the cost to educate
Greenback high school students would be less if they
were in a different school. The cost would be the same
not to mention the huge cost associated with bussing
several hundred students and the costs to expand Loudon
High School to accommodate that many additional
4. We are concerned that the proposed school building
program contains a plan to abandon a structurally sound and
safe school in Greenback only because it is in need of some
renovation. We are still repaying a loan for $550,000 in
renovations that were done there as recently as 2001.
independent, professional firms were hired by the board and
commission to evaluate this building and both came to the
same conclusion, it would be far less expensive and more
appropriate to build a new building as compared to
renovation. The cost renovate the old building or to build a
new K-8 and renovate the old building would cost several
more million dollars that a new building.
The county is still repaying
on a loan from 2001 that included several major school
We are concerned about the precedent being set in the
county for communities to ask for their own
“neighborhood” high school if one is granted to
Greenback with only 206 high school students. Should
Philadelphia, 400 students, get their own high school
and the Eaton Crossroads area, 900 students, get their
own high school? These “neighborhood” high schools would
raise our taxes enormously since high schools are
extremely costly to build and operate.
precedent is being set. The high school has always been
part of GBS since 1939. The code they are referring to
is about "establishing" a new Senior High School, GBS is
not establishing, we are rebuilding for a current
school. The State Board of Education was asked and in
their opinion this code does not apply to our situation.
Our school board attorney agrees that we are in
compliance by building a new PreK-12 school building
because it is a comprehensive school. In addition, our
research indicates that it is logistically impossible to
transport students from Greenback High School to Loudon
High and still meet TCA 49-6-2105 requirements regarding
busing students. "No pupil shall be allowed to remain
in transit to or from school on a school bus more than
one and one half hours in the morning or one and one
half hours in the afternoon."
We are concerned that Phase One of the school building
project will cost a minimum of $72M ($30M for GBS) of
interest and principal repayment, and there are other
big capital projects on the horizon that will cause
significant long term county debt (i.e.: county jail
expansion, road repairs, the second Phase of the School
1 will costs are estimated at $43M NOT $72
M Greenback school is estimated at $24M NOT $30M.
There are no figures
being given as to the Operating Costs associated with a new
145,568 square foot school proposed in Greenback. These are
usually significant costs. There are no plans as to what
will happen with the existing Greenback School and its
Operating Expenses if it is abandoned if/when a new school
should be no increase in operating expenses for the new
school. As a matter of fact, I believe utility costs
may go down due to the fact that new buildings are more
efficient and the high costs associated with portable
buildings will not be part of our new operating program.
The old building will become surplus property and it
will be up to the county commission to determine it's
final usage. There will be no operating expenses
associated with the old building.
There are no “zoning rules” in Loudon County.
Zoning rules would dictate which school each
county student must attend, thereby providing a
valid headcount as a means to design, build and
(A) Loudon County has no school zoning policy.
Parents may choose which school their child may
attend. However if a parent chooses to attend a
school outside the bus routes of their
community, they must provide transportation
themselves. The majority of parents do not favor
9. The Board of Education must initiate
and enforce, during the 2011-12 student
registration, a strictly controlled
enrollment process with proof of valid
county residence in order to enroll in
Loudon County schools. Loudon County
taxpayers should not have to build new
schools for out of county
students who currently attend our
schools for free and pay no taxes to our
(A) Board policy adopted in 2009
prohibits any out of county students
from enrolling in Loudon County schools.
10. The STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL will render an
opinion as to whether or not a new high school
space is legal to be built for Greenback High,
since they have less than the legal 300 students
needed in average daily attendance. (They are
grandfathered in their current building).
(A) As stated above,
The high school has always been part of GBS
since 1939. The code they are referring to is
about "establishing" a new Senior High School,
GBS is not establishing, we are rebuilding for a
current school. The State Board of Education was
asked and in their opinion this code does not
apply to our situation. Our school board
attorney agrees that we are in compliance by
building a new PreK-12 school building because
it is a comprehensive school.
We respectfully request there should be
multiple bids obtained
from construction companies, not architectural
firms, to renovate the existing Greenback school
before building a new school.
We have already had
two companies evaluate the current Greenback
school building. Both companies came to the
same conclusion it would be more cost
effective to build a new school.
State law requires
that any project costing more than $25,000
requires a certified, qualified
architectural firm to be hired.