Shull takes call for countywide school facilities study panel before Sullivan BOE

Rick Wagner • Jul 7, 2013 at 7:23 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County Commissioner Pat Shull has brought his call for a committee to look at the best use of school facilities and assets across the county and its cities before the county school board.

He plans to bring it before the Kingsport Board of Education meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday at the central office downtown.

Shull wants a joint committee of the county commission, county school board, Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Kingsport BOE, Bristol, Tenn., City Council and Bristol School Board.

And one county Board of Education member said he agreed with the proposal but wanted to limit membership on the committee “to have folks who haven’t been on these committees before” so the group would have “fresh ideas.”

BOE member Todd Broughton of Bloomingdale said he’d like to see no one on the committee who’s been on that type of study group in the past five years, although county BOE member Jerry Greene of Bristol questioned the definition of that.

Shull responded to Broughton that his proposal is that each entity would appoint members and that the discussion so far has been for the commission to appoint four members.

Broughton’s call for “new blood” was mirrored by County Commissioner Ed Marsh’s comments to fellow members of the Administrative Committee later in the week.

Shull said his appearance before the BOE was to “urge you to participate in this when you’re invited.”

Shull’s 11th District is entirely inside the Kingsport city limits. He presented the county BOE a synopsis of his resolution, along with copies of it and a June 30 Kingsport Times-News editorial. Shull said he didn’t agree with everything in the editorial but that it lays out the issues well.

He said the resolution seeks the joint meetings to help “maximize the use of county education resources” but is not an effort to usurp the power or authority of the school boards.

A joint discussion hopefully will result in a resolution, he said. One idea Shull has mentioned is to form three special school districts: a Kingsport area with the current city district plus Sullivan North and South high school zones; a Bristol area with Tennessee High and Sullivan East zones; and a county area with the Sullivan Central High zone.

During a June 20 Kingsport BOE meeting, city Superintendent Lyle Ailshie cited community interest in school facilities in floating the idea of the city assuming operation of the county’s Colonial Heights Middle School.

The county BOE this fall is to consider a scenario that would close Colonial Heights Middle and the middle school portion of Sullivan Gardens K-8 School. Those middle school students would go to either North or South high school, with the other school becoming a high school for the North and South zones.

Ailshie said the city system would allow existing non-city students to remain at Colonial Heights Middle, at least for a time. After eighth grade, the county students could go on to South while the city students could go on to Dobyns-Bennett High, Ailshie said.

Staff write J.H. Osborne contributed to this report.

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