Sullivan BOE votes 6-1 to approve North transfer contract (VIDEOS)

Rick Wagner • Feb 7, 2017 at 4:30 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County’s Board of Education voted 6-1 to approve a contract that would transfer Sullivan North High School/Middle School to Kingsport City Schools in exchange for $20 million in bond proceeds, integral to both the county and city school facilities plans.

The vote comes on the heels of a Kingsport BOE vote Thursday to approve the contract and a vote tonight for the city Board of Mayor and Aldermen to approve the vote. County Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said the matter likely would be presented to the County Commission but would not require commission approval since the North property is in the name of the county school system.

BOE member Mark Ireson voted against the contract after asking how the $20 million selling prices was determined. Rafalowski said she would provide Ireson that information later but since it had been two years she could not remember all the details. BOE Chairman Michael Hughes said those details were shared during a meeting with county commissions last year leading up to the commission’s December vote on a $140 countywide bond to fund projects for the county, Kingsport and Bristol, Tenn., schools.

“I asked for two years,” said Ireson, who before his election to the board was critical of the plan to building a new 1,700-student high school to replace Sullivan North and South high schools and most of Sullivan Central High. Some Central students will be shifted to Sullivan East High. The agreement outlines what goes with the building and what stays, as well as prohibiting the county system from encumbering the property or having liens placed against it without KCS approval. North will shift to city ownership by the end of June of 2021 unless the building ceases being a county school before then.

Also during the meeting, Rafalowski got board permission to have a called work session 5 p.m. March 9 with architect Dineen West of Cain Rash West Architects to go over some potential design details of the new high school, to be off Exit 63 of Interstate 81, and a new 800-student middle school near Sullivan East High.


Before Ireson’s election, member Todd Broughton had been critical of the plan but he was narrowly defeated by fellow incumbent Randall Jones after reapportionment put them in the same school board districts.

Broughton and former BOE member Robyn Ivester attended the meeting as parents, Ivester as the mother of a member of the Mary Hughes Middle School boys basketball team that won a Tennessee East Sectionals title in its A classification and Broughton as the father of a daughter who gave out gifts from Sullivan North High to a member of the school board. The gifts were part of a celebration of School Board Appreciation Week marked last month.

Each of the seven board members, board attorney Pat Hull and Rafalowski were shadowed during the meeting by students from Bluff City Elementary School, which made a video to honor the school board members.

Those included first grader Parker Carver, who shadowed BOE member Jerry Greene. Parker ended the meeting with a speech on what school board members do. “We couldn’t have the schools to learn without these school board members,” Parker said. 

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