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Schools to consider director's contract, use of old high school
Dec 02, 2012 12:00 am
The Wilson County Board of Education is scheduled to meet Monday, and the first thing on the agenda is the board's consideration of the renewal of Director Mike Davis' contract.
Davis has overseen the county school system through growth, renovations and the opening of new schools. He has seen his share of controversy, most recently with the notion of revamping the old Lebanon High School as a middle school to relieve overcrowding. These decisions are just a lead up to the question the board will face in January - whether the county should stay with kindergarten through eighth-grade schools or move to a middle school concept.
Board member Wayne McNeese has more on his mind than Davis' contract renewal.
"I haven't made up my mind about how I'll vote on that," he said, adding that like most school board members and county commissioners, he is concerned about the proposal to use the old Lebanon High School building as a middle school. "I toured the old LHS last week, and if the question is whether or not it's fit for students, the answer is yes," he said.
He said if the question is whether the county should go to a middle school concept as opposed to the current K-8 scheme, he is not in favor of making the change.
"I don't think we should upset the apple cart of K-8," McNeese said. "On the other hand, having schools for grades six-eight, based on what our educators tell us, may be better. I have not made up my mind."
McNeese is concerned that something be done with the old Lebanon High School building to avoid $250,000-per-year maintenance costs.
"That's a lot of money to sit there," he said. "Taxpayers, like me, we want to get out from under that."
McNeese said one idea would be to use the old Lebanon High School as home for school system offices, as well as all the divisions of the county schools that currently rent space all over the county. He said this would free the board up to sell the Stumpy Road property that currently houses the director's office, school administrators and support personnel.
"That would put it all under one roof," McNeese said.
He said County Commissioner Mike Justice has been vocal in his opposition to the LHS-to-middle-school idea. He said Justice told the board last month that he would support building a new middle school to avoid seeing students, including his own, in the old building.
"I get worked up when county commissioners worry more about our jobs than about theirs," he said. "They fund our school system, they don't run our school system."
School board member Greg Lasater is not in favor of the plan for reusing the old Lebanon High School, but he has yet to make up his mind about whether he will vote to renew Davis' contract. He's not sure if the current controversy will affect the contract debate.
"To be honest, I don't know if this will change things," he said. "I don't like it and I didn't like it from the get-go. In 2007, we voted on the middle school concept and I was against the concept, but now it's more about that building."
The planned tour of the old Lebanon High School building Saturday at 9 a.m. will give board members and the public a chance to get a look at the interior of the building and judge for themselves whether renovations would render it useable as a middle school.
"The thing with the work session [Saturday] is that building is going to be the cleanest it's been in 25 years," Lasater said. "Most people will be able to see through that."
He acknowledged that he has received numerous "complaints and concerns" via email and that Tuckers Crossroads and Carroll-Oakland are both suffering from overcrowding.
"They need more room," Lasater said. "But I don't think moving those kids to that building is the answer."
Besides deciding on Davis' contract, the board will also consider:
• approval of the School Compliance Report for 2012-13.
• approval of fuel services bid.
• approval of Collaborative Conferencing Committee members for the board.
The board meets Monday at 6 p.m. at the Central Office on Stumpy Lane in Lebanon.