motions and proposed amendments to those motions, the Loudon
County Commission opted once again to get more information and
postpone making a recommendation on where and when the county
school board should begin the building program and how much the
county can afford to spend on it.
The Monday evening
meeting began with Greenback residents addressing the commission
asking, demanding and - in some cases - begging the commission
to include a new school at Greenback in the first phase of the
Greenback Principal Joey Breedlove came first touting the
achievements of his school and assuring the commissioners if
there was a new building for the school, the sky was the limit
on what they could accomplish.
Greenback resident the Rev. Ron Sabo, who has children in the
school, told the commission that while they all claim that
education is their top priority, "your actions show
Greenback's school board representative Lisa Russell addressed
the commission as "a citizen and a parent." She reminded the
commission of the studies commissioned about the school building
program in the county including a study by the Public Building
Authority which concluded it would be less expensive to build a
new school in Greenback than attempt to renovate the building,
which has been renovated many times already since the original
building was constructed in 1939.
County resident Richard Truitt commented on the upcoming motion
by Commissioner Roy Bledsoe that the commission recommend to the
school board they begin the building program by building a new
middle school in Loudon to get kids out of trailers at the
school and update the cafeteria in Philadelphia.
These two projects, along with a new school in Greenback and the
combination of Fort Loudoun Middle School and Loudon Elementary
into one school, make up Phase I of the building program
approved by the school board. At an earlier meeting, Bledsoe
said the trailers at Loudon schools were in danger of toppling
if the winds were too strong. "The wind blows in Greenback too,"
Truitt said referencing the fact that Greenback School is also
home to several trailers. He said all the school board had asked
for was a dollar amount to determine how much the county could
afford to build. "I'm sad this has been turned into a political
football," he said.
School board member Gary Ubben urged the commission to move
forward to take advantage of low interest rates and construction
costs while the economy is still in a downturn.
After more than an hour of public comment, Bledsoe made his
motion to recommend the school board begin with the new middle
school in Loudon and the cafeteria renovations in Philadelphia.
He noted the debate on the building program has been going on
for years and his only motive in proposing the two projects was
"to get something started."
Greenback Commissioner Bob Franke immediately moved to amend
Bledsoe's motion. He noted the county has managed to build a new
health department, a new animal shelter, a new senior center,
remodeled the justice center and update the mayor's office but
has yet to address the needs of county students.
He also said that in light of a recent gas explosion that
destroyed a home in West Knoxville, the frequent gas leaks at
Greenback School have him and Greenback parents and teachers
worried. "I wouldn't want to go to a family if something bad
happened," he said.
His amendment was
to have the school board move forward with getting construction
drawings for all four projects in Phase I of the building
program and to give the school board $1.5 million to get those
plans. Franke also said if it was
necessary to raise property taxes a small amount to fund the
building program, he would recommend biting the bullet and doing
Then came more proposed amendments and some confusion about what
was being voted upon and what order the votes should take.
Finally, Commissioner Don Miller proposed an amendment
recommending the school board attempt to get construction
drawings and bids for all four Phase I projects to determine
"what we can afford to do."
Eventually, Miller's amendment was rephrased as a motion which
passed by a vote of eight to two with Franke and Commissioner
Austin Shaver voting against the motion.
The commission was also scheduled to vote on whether or not to
have a joint meeting with the school board but opted to postpone
any meeting until the school board voted on whether or not to
accept the commission's recommendation to go for construction
plans and bids.