Used trailer at school raises questions
By: Mary Hinds
Source: Loudon County News-Herald
A used double-wide trailer recently set up on the campus of Eaton Elementary and North Middle School has raised eyebrows and questions from passers-by.

The run-down appearance of the trailer, which is earmarked for an on-site daycare for teachers with children of their own, has prompted questions about whether the structure is a statement about the controversial operating budget for the county school system.

Executive Assistant Nancy Carpenter confirmed the central office and individual county school board members had received anonymous letters complaining about the appearance of the trailer and questioning whether or not the trailer was put there to make a point about the budget situation. The plan to make daycare available for school teachers was proposed before the budget controversy began. Eaton Elementary Principal Jennifer Malone approached the county school board in February to request permission to move ahead with the project.

The trailer was donated by a local church and delivered free of charge. According to school officials, the trailer is in better condition on the inside than the outer appearance would suggest. Renovations on the exterior are expected to begin soon and should be finished in time for the school year.

Malone said in February the renovations would be paid for from fund-raisers and donations raised by the Eaton PTO. She also noted the trailer would be moved to a less conspicuous spot for appearances, ease of drop-off and delivery, as well as to comply with state fire codes.

The participating teachers will pay the staff, provide the equipment and supplies and the daycare center will meet all state standards, officials noted. Malone said the center would address a "lack of quality daycare in our area" and would be great to help retain teachers who want to work but still want their children safe and nearby.

School officials noted eight teachers at Eaton have had babies during the last year and five of the school’s teachers are pregnant now. In February when she proposed the idea to the school board , Malone said having on-site daycare would be a good tool for attracting and keeping teachers who sometimes stop working or change jobs because of lack of quality daycare.