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Schools pitch using old Lebanon High to county
Nov 20, 2012 4:30 pm
Plans to use the old Lebanon High School building as a middle school came up again at the Wilson County Commission meeting Monday.
County schools Director Mike Davis first apprised the commissioners of the district's high marks on the recently released state report card.
"In Middle Tennessee, only Williamson County scored higher," Davis said. "Our graduation rate went from 80 percent to 95.5 percent. Our students are doing well, and that's a credit to our teachers."
He also said county schools are doing well in athletics, especially Mt. Juliet High School's football team, which is headed to a state semifinal Friday.
Davis then invited commissioners to a school board work session planned for Dec. 1 at 9 a.m. at the old Lebanon High School facility.
"We're having a work session," Davis said. "We're going to open that school, and people can walk through it and see it for themselves."
He said the options are to use the building as a middle school, add to the county's existing middle schools or build a new middle school.
"This time we're going to bring the facts, not the emotions, to the table," Davis said. "We spend a quarter of a million dollars a year to heat and cool an empty school while students sit in portables. If we're not going to use it, you need to surplus it."
Commissioners Mike Justice and Annette Stafford had questions about the old building's air quality, general condition and what they evidently feel is different from the way Davis described the building when advocating for a new Lebanon High School and how he described it now that he favors using it as a middle school.
"Portions of it won't ever be used," Davis said. "But the fire marshal said, 'if you sprinkle this building, you could use it."
Stafford questioned the sewer line down the middle of the building, but Davis said, "three years ago we had it sealed."
"This is confusing to the public," Stafford said. "You said it wasn't good enough for a high school; now you're saying it's good enough for a middle school?"
The audience burst into applause, and Mayor Randall Hutto called the meeting back to order.
"I've never see a bigger shift of direction," Justice said, adding Davis had been before the commission on numerous occasions advocating for a new Lebanon High School building. "You said it was deplorable, unsafe and that there was no way to secure it. Every meeting we had you said how negligent we were. Maybe we shouldn't have spent $50 million on a new school but just added on to the old one."
At that point, Commissioner Wendell Marlowe said while the issue of using the old Lebanon High School needed to be discuss, another forum would be more appropriate.
"Let's move on," he said.
Davis said the school board was exploring all the options.
"Give the school board time for due diligence," he said.
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 45 or email@example.com.