School Board members debated the best way to reduce or eliminate
the number of out-of-county students attending county schools
during a workshop meeting Thursday.
"It's not fair for
our taxpayers to educate out-of-county students," said board
member Bill Marcus.
Currently the school system does not accept new students from
neighboring counties unless they have already been attending a
school here, or are the sibling of a student in the system.
Board members questioned the need for students who come from
families who do not pay property taxes in Loudon County. Various
options were presented including a suggestion by board member
Van Shaver to completely eliminate all out-of-county students
before the start of school in the fall.
Board Member Gary Ubben suggested a more gradual approach, which
would allow students to finish at the school they are in, but
not move to a new school - for instance a student at Eaton
Elementary would not be allowed to travel with his fellow
students to North Middle. He also suggested they consider
eliminating the exception for siblings.
Ubben said it can be traumatic for a child to be shifted between
schools, though Shaver indicated he was more concerned with how
Loudon County's money is being spent. "Trauma to a child doesn't
weigh nearly as heavy on me as cost to the taxpayers," Shaver
He voiced his support to remove all out-of-county students
immediately, with a possible exception for students who are the
children of teachers.
North Middle School Principal Joey Breedlove told the board it
is difficult to remove children from the school where they have
been accepted and encouraged to be part of the school "family."
Ubben also expressed concern for students in high school who may
not be performing well. He said making them leave the school
could encourage some of them to drop out all together.
Director of Schools Wayne Honeycutt began the discussion talking
about the relationship between the Loudon County School System
and Lenoir City Schools. Honeycutt said students who live inside
the city limits of Lenoir City are treated exactly the same as
out-of-county students, based on the legal opinion of the
county's attorney Chuck Cagle.
Marcus said Cagle's opinion was different than what he felt was
right because even though the students are within the boundaries
of a separate school system, they are still county taxpayers and
should have access to county services, like the schools. Other
members of the board agreed they should be allowing Lenoir City
students before out-of-county students.
Honeycutt said he has been in discussions with Lenoir City
Schools Superintendent Wayne Miller to work out the specific
details of how to handle students who want to transfer between
Those plans may include a three-week window at the beginning of
the school year where students can decide to switch schools. He
said Cagle is reviewing the details of both systems so an
arrangement can be worked out.
Currently most students in the north part of the county who
start out in county schools eventually end up in Lenoir City
High School, even if they live outside Lenoir City's limits.
Board member Leroy Tate reminded the board that years ago when
the schools first started accepting out-of-county students, it
was because there was extra space in the schools, and filling
out the classrooms increased the amount of money received from
the state. He also said there are many Loudon County residents
who attend schools in other counties. He said if the board sends
students back to their home counties, all those students may get
sent back here, which wouldn't help the space concerns.
Shaver stated we should be educating our own students anyway.
Tate said the issue needs to be resolved, but done so with class
and consideration for the students involved.
The issue may be voted on at the next board meeting, scheduled