Northeast to close Bristol campus, sell facility in Gray

Rick Wagner • Oct 26, 2017 at 4:33 PM

BLOUNTVILLE —  Northeast State Community College will close its Bristol campus at the end of the fall 2017 semester, the school announced Thursday afternoon. It is part of an ongoing budget realignment at the school.

And for the same reason, the school has moved offerings from its Gray campus to other locations and put that campus up for sale.

Aside from the main campus in Blountville, Northeast has a satellite campuses in downtown Kingsport, including the Kingsport Center for Higher Education and other operations in the Academic Village, Johnson City and Elizabethton, as well as dual enrollment and other instruction space in area high schools. Northeast owns or leases those facilities.

“The whole budget realignment is a year-long evaluation of budgets and leases,” Northeast spokesman Bob Carpenter said in a phone interview. “The college is evaluating these (other) sites but at this time there are no changes expected for those right now.”

The Bristol decision, mostly impacting the Entertainment Technology Program housed at the Bristol campus, is part of the college’s corrective action plan to align revenues and expenses. Northeast recently trimmed $5 million to balance its 2018 budget in what interim President James King has called a move to “right size” the school. 

What are the details and background of the Bristol decision?

“The benefits of the site do not justify the current cost of the agreement,” according to a recent audit by the Tennessee Board of Regents. The college pays $22,986.51 a month for the 16,000 square-foot site on State Street, not the more than $17,000 an earlier Northeast report indicated. Payment on the facility will continue until the lease expires on Feb. 18, 2018. Northeast alumnus Allen Hurley bought and renovated the State Street property and leased it to the college, a deal done under former President Janice Gilliam. She retired effective June 30.

“This move will make the college stronger financially and increase the efficiency of operations,” King, who is identified as president instead of interim president by the college, said in a news release. “We appreciate the support we have enjoyed in Bristol and want to keep the door open for a future presence in the community.”

The facility, located at 620 State Street, opened in 2013 with 102 students. The site this semester has about 140 students.

King said personnel at the Bristol site would be relocated to Northeast State’s campuses in Blountville, Johnson City and Kingsport.

The college’s Entertainment Technology Program, housed at the Bristol campus, will be moved to the main Blountville campus. Also, dual enrollment students taking classes at the facility will move to Tennessee High School.

Northeast spokesman Bob Carpenter said students with questions about transitioning to other Northeast State campuses may contact Jennifer Puckett, director at Northeast State at Bristol, at (423) 354-5187 or jmpuckett@northeaststate.edu.

King was unavailable for immediate comment Thursday afternoon.

What about the Gray site?

“As part of its efforts to right-size operations, Northeast State is offering its Gray campus building for sale,” Carpenter said in an email. “The proposed sale is part of the College’s recent budget realignment which involved reductions in personnel, operating, travel and equipment.”

The building at 20 Dillon Court in Gray contains 12,956 square feet and was built in 1992.

The state’s Department of General Services is conducting the sale and is requesting sealed bids for purchase. A deadline for bids has not been set. The state reserves to right to refuse or reject any or all bids. More details are available online at tn.gov/generalservices/article/for-sale.

The facility housed administrative offices for University Parallel Dual Enrollment and Adult Education as well as the Aviation Technology program. Dual Enrollment has been relocated to the Blountville campus, while Adult Education has moved to the Johnson City campus. Aviation Technology will relocate to the Elizabethton campus at semester’s end.

The sale will not affect instructional activities scheduled for the fall 2017 semester, Carpenter said.

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