Parents: Greenback School facilities not making grade

By Gerhard Schneibel
Daily Times Correspondent

When students of Greenback School went back to classes last Wednesday, many found themselves in classrooms without air conditioning on a day when highs reached 95 degrees.

Parents say the school’s infrastructure is severely out of date and that squabbling among the Loudon County Commission and the Board of Education is hindering progress in replacing the structure.“The school board over here is inept,” said Danny Grimshaw, a parent.“They can’t get out of their own way. They agree to do certain things, and then behind the scenes a few of them change their mind and then they go back to square one. As a team of 12 people, they’re pathetic. They’re just not getting anything accomplished. The condition of the building is, in reality, beyond belief.”

Director of Schools Edward Headlee said three portable air conditioners had been delivered to Greenback School, but that permanent repairs will only be made after a comprehensive list of needs throughout the county is compiled.

However, according to parent Tammy Selvidge, Greenback School receives less support than other Loudon County schools.
“Greenback school is set apart from the rest of the school system. I doubt the other schools would be operating like this. They don’t want to put money into the school because it’s a smaller school. But it’s the oldest school in Loudon County.”

Other complaints included a mold infestation and outdated and damaged books and the condition of the gym, which serves kindergarten through grade 12. One parent said the gym floor has been reconditioned so many times it is no longer possible to be restored. Another said teachers are only given funding for a single printer cartridge yearly. On top of that, the building infrastructure is incapable of supporting large computer labs or science labs. “The mechanical systems, they’re old and they’re breaking down, and they’re having trouble maintaining them,” said parent and former architect Ron Saybo. “Bottom line,” said Grimshaw. “The condition of the school is terrible. I think the teachers do an excellent job with what they’re given. The teachers are doing an excellent job,” he said.

Headlee said the school board is working to correct the air conditioning situation. “We’re currently getting a report from each of our schools about what their situation is, how many rooms the units are not working in, and I’m working with the county purchasing agent to determine if we need to get some temporary air conditioning in some of those rooms, if the units can be repaired quickly, what the status is, so we are working on that. “I know several at Greenback were repaired last Friday, but I’m sure they still have a few that probably are not working. I have not received their report for today though, but as soon as we get that we’re going to be right on top of it,” Headlee said.