|The Loudon County Board Of Education may be on the
verge of voting for a new building plan for Loudon County Schools. At a
recent board workshop to discuss the building program, most board
members seemed to be in agreement on what their priorities should be.
The two areas identified with the most urgent needs
are Loudon Elementary and Fort Loudon Middle and Greenback. Board
members discussed merging Loudon Elementary and Fort Loudon Middle by
adding a new central cafeteria and office that would tie the two
buildings together. Combining the two facilities would greatly reduce
overhead and operating costs at the facility. The facility would then be
a K-5 elementary. This plan would include building a new 6-8 Loudon
middle school on property owned by the board adjacent to Loudon High
School. The combining of the older schools and the addition of a new
middle school would address the Loudon area education needs for many
years. And if the need were to arise, it would allow for the
consolidation of Steekee Elementary with the new Loudon Elementary and
Philadelphia Middle School with the new Loudon Middle School with still
room to grow in both facilities.
Most board members were also in agreement with a new
K-12 school in Greenback. Greenback is the third largest school in the
county system with parts of the building dating back to the Roosevelt
administration. Also discussed was additional class rooms and an
expanded cafeteria at Philadelphia.
The Loudon, Greenback and Philadelphia programs would
all be included in phase one of the building plan. Phase two of the plan
could include a new middle school in the north end of the county which
would alleviate over crowding at Highland Park, Eatons and North Middle
School combo sparks debate
Loudon plan would merge middle and elementary schools
Hugh G. Willett, knoxnews.com
The question of combining elementary and middle schools
in Loudon County is stirring heated debate as the school system
considers its long-term building plan.
The board was generally enthusiastic about the plan presented this month
by schools director Wayne Honeycutt, including the idea of starting in
the southern end of the county first, replacing the elementary and
middle schools and building a new school for pre-K to high school in
The initial plan is built around the concept of eventually transitioning
the county to a consistent pre-K-to-eighth-grade model, eliminating the
current middle school.
The first stage of the plan would involve converting the Fort Loudoun
Middle School into a pre-K-to-eighth-grade school at a cost of about $18
million. Steekee School would also be converted to a
Combining elementary and middle school grades enhances student
achievement, Honeycutt said.
"Every time a child transfers schools, achievement dips," he said.
Board member Gary Ubben, a professor of education at the University of
Tennessee, told the board that the pre-K-to-eight model was finding
favor with educators for several reasons.
It "builds a better community," Ubben said. "Teachers get to know the
It's also more flexible in that having more grades in a single building
allows for easier adjustments of classrooms based on the number of
students in specific grades, he said. One school requires only one
administrative staff, he added.
Board member Scott Newman, representing the city of Loudon, said he has
heard universally that Loudon parents do not want to eliminate the
"Just because it's a middle school doesn't mean it's not a community
school," Newman said.
Bill Marcus, also representing the city of Loudon, said that he was
concerned that in order to make the proposed model work, children would
have to be zoned into certain districts, leading to economic
Newman joined Marcus in his concern about segregation of minority
students into certain schools.
Van Shaver, who had previously indicated that he was not advocating any
specific structure in the pre-K-to-eight vs. middle school debate,
asserted that he was definitely not for any plan that required zoning.
"I can tell you one thing that will never happen," he said. "We will not
have zoning in Loudon County schools."
After the workshop, Shaver said that he believes the building plan will
progress in a form not much different from Honeycutt's proposal, but
probably not based on a pre-K-to-eight model. A pre-K-to-fifth-grade
model would accomplish many of the same goals without having to
eliminate the middle school, he said.