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Education committee OKs athletic fields

By Jared Felkins jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:37 PM

When it rains, it pours. 

That appears to be the general consensus concerning needs at various Wilson County schools when it comes to repairs and finishing athletic facilities. On Thursday, the Wilson County Education Committee was tasked with the challenge of how to pay for all of them. 

Ultimately the committee addressed most of the issues. 

The committee’s first task was to determine how to pay for $38,950 in needed repairs at Lebanon High School’s football field, along with a second request of $154,000 to raise the school’s home-side bleachers. 

During the discussion, Commissioner Jeff Joines asked county attorney Mike Jennings whether discretionary or leftover money from building a new Watertown High School could be used to fund the project at Lebanon. Jennings said discretionary funds go directly into the county’s debt services fund. But discretionary funds used at one high school could only be transferred to another high school, Jennings said. 

That’s after commissioner and West Wilson Middle School principal Wendell Marlowe asked if the money could be used for the cost of concrete to place bleachers at the school previously approved to come from leftovers at Watertown High School. Marlowe estimated the cost would be between $10,000-$15,000. 

That motion from Commissioner Annette Stafford to spend no more than $15,000 on the concrete will now go to the Budget Committee for approval. 

In revisiting the Lebanon High School issues, the committee also approved the $154,000 to raise the bleachers with $85,000 coming from discretionary money left over when Lebanon High School was built two years ago. The remaining money, along with the $38,950 for the field repairs will come from the county’s discretionary fund. 

Both items will also be sent to the Budget Committee, which will meet June 16 before the regular Wilson County Commission meeting, for approval. 

The committee opted to defer a request from the Wilson County Board of Education asking for about $350,000 to expand the field house at Mt. Juliet High School’s football field. The school’s booster club raised about $100,000 for the estimated $450,000 project. That money was also requested to come from leftover funds from Watertown High School’s building project, which was around $55 million. 

“We’re talking about taking every dime away from Watertown High School and using it somewhere else,” Joines said. “…It’s the classic case of insanity of doing the same thing over and over.”

Stafford agreed. 

“I think we need to make sure Watertown is taken care of before we go spending their money,” she said. 

The committee also approved language to be used on the Aug. 7 ballot that asks voters to decide on whether to increase the number of Wilson County Board of Education members from five to seven. 

The proposed ballot question is, “Shall Private Chapter No. 71 adopted in 2014 by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee be approved increasing the number of members of the Wilson County Board of Education from five (5), as it currently exists, to seven (7) members?”

The language will now go to the commission for consideration at its June 16 meeting.  

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