Sullivan education panel expected to discuss three systems’ use of resources

J. H. Osborne • Aug 8, 2013 at 9:25 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Commission’s Education Committee is expected to meet Thursday and discuss how to best use all resources currently being used by multiple local governments to operate separate school systems, according to comments made Wednesday during a meeting of the commission’s Administrative Committee.

The Administrative Committee itself discussed a resolution sponsored by commissioners Baxter Hood and Pat Shull to create a joint study committee with the cities of Kingsport and Bristol to look at that issue.

Hood deferred action on that resolution during the full commission’s regular meeting last month.

As the Administrative Committee discussed it, Marsh said the commission’s Education Committee plans to meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday “to discuss this.”

The Education Committee has recently changed, postponed or cancelled several of its meetings.

Commissioner John Gardner told the Times-News last month that the Education Committee’s regular meeting time is at 6:30 p.m. immediately preceding regular meetings of the commission’s Budget Committee — which is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday.

And the Education Committee’s 6:30 p.m. meeting is listed on the August calendar issued by the county mayor’s office.

During earlier debate of Hood and Shull’s resolution, Commissioner Eddie Williams said there are groups already looking at that issue and there is no need to step on anyone else’s toes by starting a new effort.

“We don’t need two different groups making decisions before one of them is finished,” Williams said.

Shull, however, has said he has been assured by Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie that there is no such group currently meeting.

And Yennie himself seemed to support the proposal for a joint committee to study the issue.

Yennie said there is not a committee operating now “formally.”

“It’s not a bad idea to have a group to continue looking at all the things that are happening,” Yennie said.

Hood has said he doesn’t have a specific agenda and his primary objective in proposing the committee is simply to bring people together to get a conversation started.

If approved by the full commission, the resolution will direct Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey to invite city officials from Bristol, Tenn., and Kingsport to look at “educational resources” through creation of a joint education committee “to study and evaluate ways to maximize the utilization of county educational resources and provide quality education to Sullivan County students.”

In June, Shull said, “I am not putting forth an idea of countywide consolidation.” But he went on to say that could be the recommendation of the joint study committee if it is created.

Shull said he would probably like to see three special school districts: one encompassing today’s Kingsport City Schools system, with the addition of Sullivan North and Sullivan South and the feeder schools for North and South; another encompassing today’s Bristol Tennessee City Schools system, with the addition of Sullivan East and its feeder schools; and a third that would be Sullivan Central High School and its feeder schools.

BOE member Todd Broughton has 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 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.

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