The Loudon County
Commission is set to consider a proposal by County Commission
Chairman Roy Bledsoe Monday regarding the school building
Included on the agenda is consideration of a recommendation to
the county school board that they begin the program by building
a new middle school in Loudon and renovating the Philadelphia
At the last commission workshop, Bledsoe introduced the plan.
Those two projects, along with a new school in Greenback and the
combining of Loudon Elementary and Fort Loudoun Middle School,
make up Phase I of the building program voted on and approved by
the school board.
At the earlier workshop, Commissioner Austin Shaver said the
county should get a legal opinion about whether or not the
county commission was allowed to decide or even recommend which
projects would be done or if that decision was up to the school
board with the role of the county commission being solely to
decide how much money can be raised for the building program.
This proposal may stir controversy since it bypasses a new
school for Greenback. Some have said the current Greenback
School has been plagued with problems and has been called
When Bledsoe first broached his plan at the earlier workshop, he
cited overcrowding and the use of trailers to relieve
overcrowding at Fort Loudoun Middle School and the too small
cafeteria at Philadelphia School as the most pressing needs of
the county schools.
Others said they feel frequent gas leaks, the extreme age of
some parts of the building and trailers at Greenback School
should put it at the top of the building plan priority list.
Bledsoe also said after the two projects, he is recommending the
rest of the building program be tackled as soon as time and
Lisa Russell, who represents Greenback on the schools board,
said she feels what to build should be a decision left up to the
school board. "We asked for a number and I think they should
allow us to do our jobs with the funds that they can designate
for this building plan," she said.
School board member Gary Ubben said that weight would be given
to any recommendation from the county commission but that would
not be the deciding factor. "We are subject to the county
commission and whatever funding they can provide for us," he
said adding he would wait and see just what Bledsoe brings
forward. "The question we had asked of them was, given the
pennies into the rural debt fund, how much money potentially was
available for building. It was our intention to take that number
and then develope a plan within that framework of money."
He also has questions about some of the figures being bandied
about as to how much money the commission could provide. "If
some of the commissioners are correct, the two projects being
recommended should come to about $15 million. If some of the
other commissioners are correct there could be as much as $40
million available. If that is the case, then what's happening to
the other $25 million? Why are they holding on to that becomes
Commission Bob Franke said while he's glad there is some
movement to get the building plan started he's not sure
Bledsoe's proposal is the right plan. "I think it is time we get
started with the school building program quite frankly. I'm glad
to see that maybe we can get this thing moving forward. I don't
happen to agree with the limited scope that they are looking at
there because I think we can afford more than that," Franke
He also questions if it is the county commission's prerogative
to decide what to build. "We can recommend to them or suggest to
them what they should do, but really, as far as I'm concerned,
it's their call. That's what they're elected to do. We're
elected to be the funding body and they're elected to run the
school system," he said.
Franke also questioned why the county seems to get other
projects done but always reaches a sticking point when it comes
to the county school's building program. "We've done a lot of
other good things in the county. I don't understand- - we've
built a senior citizens center and taken care of the seniors,
we've taken care of the health department and we've gotten
another convenience center. We've taken care of everything from
the seniors to the trash but we can't seem to take care of our
kids," he said.