Plan Has Been
For Many Years,
Dr. Stroud Says
BY SARAH R. GREGORY
Construction of a new middle school remains a key part of a long-range facilities plan for the Greeneville City School System, the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen was told Monday.
During the board's retreat that day, the mayor and aldermen heard updates from facilitators of the Town's Vision 20/20 project, which defines a number of goals and action steps to help Greeneville "realize its full potential" by the year 2020.
Dr. Linda Stroud, director of schools for the Greeneville City School System, serves as facilitator of the Vision 2020 Education action group.
That group is charged with the goal of "keeping Greeneville's educational system at the forefront."
The first goal for the group, Stroud said, was securing a long-range facilities plan.
Such a plan for Greeneville City Schools has existed and has been "well documented" for a number of years, Stroud said.
"We've talked at length about the numbers in our elementary schools, feeding into the middle school, up to the high school," she said.
As the numbers increase, another trend has been noticed -- an increasing Hispanic population -- that affects the system's costs.
"We are going to continue to see that," she said, noting that school system resources are affected by a number of mandates requiring additional services for English language-learners.
Greeneville City Schools' response to the trend, Stroud said, was making a commitment to keeping Highland Elementary School open.
Stroud pointed to the school system's removing the school from the year-round schedule in favor of the traditional academic calendar, and dedicating funds to facility needs -- such as new carpet and paint -- as clear signs that there are no plans to close the school, which serves a number of Hispanic students.
MIDDLE SCHOOL IS KEY
The key to being prepared for future growth, however, she said, lies in a plan for Greeneville Middle School.
"We know that the long-term solution for students as we continue to grow is getting a new middle school," Stroud said.
"We've talked about that for several years, openly."
With the construction of a new middle school facility, Stroud said, the existing building could be used as an intermediate school for grades four and five.
That would create room for growth in the existing elementary schools as well.
"What that would do is put pre-kindergarten through third grades in the elementary schools, convert the existing middle school to a grades-four-and-five intermediate school, and build a new middle school" for grades six through eight, Stroud said.
"That would give us long-term room for growth in Greeneville City Schools."
Many school systems -- in Tennessee and across the nation -- use such a grade configuration, Stroud noted.
AN UPDATE ONLY
Board members did not discuss the topic, as the information was presented as an update, but Alderman Darrell Bryan did ask about property and cost for such a project.
"A few years ago," Bryan said, "we were looking for property for a future new middle school. Is that ongoing, and do you have any research at this point about what kind of money -- the cost for the property and all, included -- do you have any idea of figure on that?"
Dr. Stroud did not respond to Bryan's questions in specific terms.
"There are not many pieces [of property] within Town limits that are big enough to support a total campus," she said. "Some pieces have been put out on the public market and are significant."
'THIS IS A NEED'
"Truthfully, I just keep putting this out there. This is a need. It's coming," Stroud said.
"We're at the tipping point with tuition. We've got to decide as a community and as a Town -- do we want to keep our tuition kids and increase our enrollment, annex, and increase the number we're going to have? But because of the economy, we've not been ready to move forward," she said.
"There's a whole plan that was worked on for years, but I had to make a choice to move forward, so I committed to [keeping open] Highland [Elementary School]," she said.
To date, there has been no action taken by either the Board of Education or the Board of Mayor and Aldermen toward beginning a school construction project.
No timeline has been established as to when one could be undertaken and how long it would take to be finished.
"We know, right now, with the economy -- that's up to you [as the Board of Mayor and Aldermen], when you get ready to partner on that and move forward with that," Stroud concluded.