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Sullivan County BOE discusses future of Blountville Middle School

CHRISTAN M. THOMAS • Feb 5, 2007 at 11:57 AM

BLOUNTVILLE - More concerns were aired Monday night about the future of Blountville Middle School.

Teresa Lesnak, the parent of a Blountville Middle School student, addressed the Sullivan County Board of Education during its regular monthly meeting and expressed apprehension over plans for the building and exactly when the board knew of structural problems within the school's 1932 section.

"My concerns are the immediate and long-range plans for Blountville Middle School," Lesnak said. "Quite frankly, I think Sullivan County needs to bite the bullet and build some new schools in Blountville."

Board Chairman Larry Harris said the BOE had not yet received a written report on the structural issues at Blountville Middle School and thus has not made a decision on what will be done to remedy the situation. Harris stressed that the BOE was unaware of the severity of structural problems until the report was given at the facilities work session Jan. 25.

Director of Schools Glenn Arwood announced at the board's January meeting that a structural engineer had been hired to take a look at sagging floors in the building.

Arwood said overall that cooperation had been positive, and the transition of students had gone smoothly.

"By and large I want to commend you as parents," Arwood said. "Once the decision was made we had to move, everybody worked together. … As far as I know, it has been a very smooth transition."

In other business, the BOE approved the school calendar for the 2007- 2008 school year. According to the approved draft, students will attend a half day Aug. 6, 2007, with the first full day for students falling on Aug. 8. Schools will be closed Aug. 24 - the Friday before the fall race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Other major vacation days include a winter break that will begin with a half day Dec. 19. Students will return to school Thursday, Jan. 3. Spring break will begin on Good Friday, March 21. Students will return from spring break Monday, April 1.

The last day of school for students in 2008 is tentatively set for a half day Monday, May 19.

Arwood stressed, however, that actual dates for the last day of school and high school graduations will not be set until late March 2008, so parents should not make reservations for vacations or out-of-town guests until after that time.

As for the current year's calendar, Arwood announced that Feb. 19, 2006, will still be a day off for Sullivan County Schools, and will not be used as a snow makeup day.

After a lengthy discussion, the BOE defeated a motion brought forth by Betty Combs to contribute $15,000 to help repair an eroding bank behind Bluff City Middle School. Board attorney Pat Hull said in his opinion the BOE had no legal responsibility to repair the bank, as surrounding property owners could have caused contributing runoff. He said, however, the BOE could legally contribute to the project.

While Combs said the repair was necessary for safety, other board members expressed concerns over lack of concrete information on the project's scope, as well as liability issues.

Harris requested more information from Bluff City.

"It's hard for us to go on ‘it's going to cost maybe $30,000 maybe $15,000' and not know what they're going to do," Harris said.

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