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Lottery selection at Innovation Academy postponed

Rick Wagner • May 28, 2013 at 10:36 PM

KINGSPORT — The lottery selection of students for Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee was not held as originally scheduled Tuesday afternoon.

The IA Governing Board meeting originally set for Tuesday afternoon also was postponed.

The facility is operated jointly by the Kingsport and Sullivan County school systems. Both systems announced the postponements Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Tuesday afternoon news releases, the meeting and lottery selection were postponed because of scheduling conflicts and to allow Kingsport City Schools and the Sullivan County Department of Education an opportunity to finalize their 2013-14 budgets.

The proposed city school budget is about $2 million short on revenues, with no decision on how much of that amount the Board of Mayor and Aldermen might provide. The county budget is still in the formative stages, but is about $5 million short.

The IA board had originally planned on determining Innovation Academy student enrollment for 2013-14 at Tuesday’s meeting with a random drawing for available enrollment slots.

Under the joint school operation plan, each system would have 40 students for sixth, seventh and eighth grades for a total of 240 students in 2013-14. The school began the 2012-13 year with 180 students in grades 6-7 but lost some throughout the year, and those that left later in the year were not replaced.

City school system spokesman Andy True and county Communications Coordinator Jamie Whitinger said Tuesday no new meeting date has been set.

The deadline for applications was May 24.

Whitinger said that as of last Thursday, the county had 54 applications for 40 available sixth-grade slots, 26 applications for nine available seventh-grade slots and 10 applications for 18 available eighth-grade slots.

However, she said she believes a few more last-minute eighth- grade applicants or students who decide to stay at IA will lead to a full or nearly full county eighth-grade class of 40.

True, administrative coordinator for the city system, said that Kingsport had 74 applications for 40 sixth-grade slots, 26 applications for 20 seventh-grade spots and 34 applications for 20 eighth- grade spots.

The student selection will be rescheduled for a future Governing Board meeting, the news release said.

All student enrollment applications submitted by the May 24 deadline will remain valid, with no additional information required, according to releases from KCS Communications Editor Marybeth McClain and Whitinger.

The two systems share the governance and funding of IA, which also received a $1 million grant and gets support from an East Tennessee State University STEM hub. A STEM conference began at ETSU on Tuesday.

ETSU received a $500,000 grant. The grants covered two years, although the school systems already are paying for the teachers and staff at IA, which is housed in the former Brookside Elementary in Bloomingdale.

True said emails went out to applicants about the delay in the lottery.

The school system also put out a news release and used social media to spread the word.

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