Parents unhappy with condition of roads at Sullivan schools during bad weather

Rick Wagner • Feb 4, 2014 at 10:26 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County school officials are taking some public heat for the condition of school roads and parking lots during the recent polar vortex.

They also are being criticized for a proposal of a new policy for naming facilities that requires the namesake be dead.

During a school board meeting Monday, the board, in a motion by member Todd Broughton, decided to table consideration of the naming policy on the second of three readings so it can be reviewed further. However, it took no action related to ice and snow on school access roads or parking lots.

Sullivan North High School parent Jo-rita Gragg said she was thankful for the two-hour delay when students returned to school Friday after being out four days because of weather.

But she said it was still about 12 degrees when she drove her son to North, where they witnessed a student-driven car skid sideways on the road to the school until a parent in another car told her to let off the brake to regain control.

She said packed snow and ice covered the entrance road about a fourth of the way into North, also making it difficult for the buses to get in and out of the drop-off areas.

Gragg said she later observed other vehicles slide, including one of a student that almost hit recycling bins at the school.

She also recalled seeing North High Principal Brent Palmer watching students drive into North: “You could see it on his face, ‘Please let them get in here OK.’”

Maintenance Supervisor Joe Davenport said after the meeting it was difficult to remove snow and ice in those temperatures and that the Highway Department helps but has to make public roads its first priority.

He said scraping is difficult once the ice and snow are frozen in place and that he is out of road salt. The school system has two snow plows, he said.

Director of Schools Jubal Yennie responded after the meeting that such conditions may appear better or worse to different people.

For an expanded version of this article, please see Wednesday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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