Editor’s Note: The following is an installment in a four-part series looking at three potential plans for Lebanon Middle School and the effects each has on student learning.
Still a third option discussed at Saturday’s Wilson County Board of Education work session at the old Lebanon High School would include building a new Lebanon Middle School using 21 acres near the new Lebanon High School off South Hartmann Drive.
Architect Jason Moore’s plan would have a price tag of about $23 million in construction costs alone.
During the nearly 2 ½-hour long meeting, the board, along with Director of Schools Mike Davis fielded a flurry of concerns from parents, students, teachers and community members from all directions.
Moore offered three proposals for the future of middle school students who reside or will live in areas surrounding the Lebanon city limits. Among the proposals were alternate plans within each.
The plans include using the old Lebanon High School building to house a new Lebanon Middle School; making additions to Carroll Oakland, Southside and Tuckers Crossroads elementary schools; and building a new Lebanon Middle School building near the new Lebanon High School campus. Included within the course of action the board ultimately takes would be whether it keeps the three schools in question kindergarten through eighth-grade in format or moves to a middle school concept, such as what’s in place at Mt. Juliet and Wilson Central schools.
In discussion of a new Lebanon Middle School, Davis said he talked to landowners about the possibility of acquiring the needed 21 acres to build a new 165,000-square-feet, two-story school. Davis did not indicate what the land could potentially cost. Davis did say middle school students could use the existing athletic facilities at Lebanon High School.
Wilson County Commissioner William Glover – one of the check writers on whatever plan the board chooses – said a new middle school wouldn’t be possible. The commission would have to approve any money allocated to the board’s solution.
“We oppose the spending,” Glover said. “With the economy the way it is, I just don’t see where the money is going to come from.”
But Commissioner Mike Justice has said he supports a plan for a new middle school.
During a November school board work session, the issue was a source of contention particularly with Justice, who spoke to the board in the capacity of a parent of a Tuckers Crossroads student.
Justice offered the board the chance to see pictures of the old Lebanon High School and urged it to work with the commission to find a way to fund a new middle school.
“Don’t put my kid in that school,” Justice said. “As a commissioner, I’m saying come to us, and let’s build a school. You have been good to work with us. Let’s continue that.”
Justice described the plan as putting a middle school in the middle of an abandoned building. He also questioned whether the school had asbestos.
“I’ll go to work today to bring you a new middle school rather than the old Lebanon High School,” Justice said.
To that, board chairman Don Weathers issued a challenge.
“I’ll hold you to that, Mike,” he said.
Ultimately, Davis and the board concluded Saturday’s meeting pledging to have a question-and-answer session at the school prior to January when the board is expected to make a decision on the future of Lebanon Middle School.
To get a closer look at the old Lebanon High School from Saturday’s tour, go to spotted.lebanondemocrat.com.
Director of content Jared Felkins may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 13 or firstname.lastname@example.org.