Fri
Oct 19 2007
12:36 pm
By: WhitesCreek

I'm sure Commissioner James Harmon will catch some grief for daring to propose a magnet high school to replace Kingston, Harriman, and Rockwood high schools, but I for one really appreciate his courage.

Can he sell it to the people of Roane County? Let's hope somebody sells something that involves something better than what we have now.

I'm guessing that there will be two schools built and that Midway will be included in the consolidation.

We'll see.

For one thing...

It does make some concrete jumping off point for a more directed discussion of the future of the school system. That in itself, is something positive. I disagree with Dub on a number of things. And, disagree with him or not, I don't believe there's anybody that can claim he's less than honorable in how he deals with things. I have mixed feelings about this proposal. But it does provide direction and stimulus. That's WAY better than nothing.

RB

Reading between the lines

Reading between the lines and interpreting some code speak from a couple of folks who are in the loop...I think there is much more support for something along these lines than is being said out loud.

Looks like Commissioner Harmon drew the short straw and gets to stand up and draw fire.

Well now, that could cause some real discussions...

And, as I said, that could be real good. I can see the value of having a magnet school in the county. I would love to see some of the good things in curriculum it could bring about. I also agree with - and sympathize with - OneT's idea of community schools. It is a process where, at some point, decisions have to be made as to how far to go with either concept.

Community schools can be too small and limited. I don't think there is any doubt about that. Bigger schools can be too big and overwhelming, losing hope for the real personal touch that both teachers and students thrive on. Knowing where to draw the line will be a big test of wisdom. Also a test of endurance - in having the persistence and patience to move to that point.

Dub can take the fire - he's been there before and is fairly well clothed in his asbestos long-johns.

RB

Please do not get offended...

OK Guys, I am about to cause a commotion. You have been warned!

I am not sure that small schools guarantee better education. I have mentioned before that I went to a large high school in North GA. I got a great education. I realize that part of it was that I was a driven student and I took advantage of all opportunities given to me, but another part of it was that the school system found a way to make the large school feel like small classes. Great education takes place when there is a child-motivated teacher, enough space to allow individual time for the students that need it, and the supplies required to teach the class are availible to every student.

My kid attends one of our local high schools. He has struggled all through his previous 3 years at this school. I have made numerous trips to the school, e-mailed and phoned teachers, spoke with the principal, begged councilors, offered to stay at school in the classrooms with him to keep him doing his work. So here we are in the senior year and he may not get to graduate. Is this the schools fault? Not all of it, but a large part of it is. I have asked the teachers to contact me when he does not do assignmnets. I usually find out that he has 20 homework zeroes when his grade card shows he failed the class and I call and ask why did he fail. They say, well he did not turn in homework. I reply, I thought you were going to let me know when he doesn't turn it in. I get the "Well I have 6 classes with 30 kids in each class and I do not have time to contact each child's parent." I think why bother to assign the work if all 30 aren't turning it in!

I am not saying all teachers are bad teachers. I am not saying all of my kids teachers are bad teachers. I am not saying that Roane County Schools are not great schools. I am not saying that the kids are never at fault. I am not saying there are no uncaring parents. I am saying that we are dropping the ball for kids that need something more than to sit in a class 5 days a week. Small schools do absolutely nothing for kids if the classes in those schools are so large the teachers can not give the time needed to EACH child in the class that he/she NEEDS. I had a teacher say to me last week that I need to make sure my kid does his homework. Well, I try, but when I can't find out what that assignment is and if he turned it in until grade cards come out, then they have tied my hands.

So I guess after all of this rambling...my point is that the size of the building, the area of the county it covers, which community name the building sports, and the number of students that come through the door are just issues for people to argue about and mean very little to the education of the children. Our cry should be for CLASSROOMS with fewer children, a time and place for tutoring (not all parents can afford Sylvan or Murphy-Cates, and poor kids need tutoring too!), a textbook for each child to take home (yes there are classes in Roane County where each student enrolled in the class does not have a book to carry home), affordable school supplies ($100 calculators are not affordable supplies), ways to teach compensation skills to ADD kids that do not include medication, and programs that motivate our kids to strive for more. Money does not guarantee education.

If you really want to know how we are doing in Roane County, call Adult Ed and ask them what percentage of Roane County people fail the pre-employment test(requires 11th grade educational level)they administer for local companies. Ask how many 17-25 year old males are floating in and out of the GED program. Do not focus on our few successes, look at our failures. Where did we fail and how can we change it?

Tyler said he looked forward to hearing more from me on education. I think if you guys realized how I really feel about education, you would block me from posting.

Wylamena

Wylamena

Thanks for your post. Maybe it will stir others to comment/post. All information can be of help regardless who shares our opinion. I respect your opinion and appreciate the effort you put into writing it.

Classroom size is important. There are many factors that come into play and you hit on many of them.

Call me or email me to discuss what options are available for your son.

TylerOverstreet@comcast.net Home #376-9879

A consolidated school is not a "magnet school"

I hope :) folks will not confuse the concept of consolidated schools with the attractive concept of magnet schools. For a jumping off point for 'magnet school,' see the Wikipedia article at: (link...)

-- OneTahiti

Schools

OneT,

Yeah, I think folks may be using the terms to imply the same. Point of clarification needed -- thanks.
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Perhaps, Mr. Harmon is saying "magnet" and means "consolidated" but I do not speak for him. These are two very different concepts and I think the working term for the current situation in RC is "consolidation."
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IMO, if we were talking about a magnet school it would be addition to our existing schools and we got to this point, again IMO, because of funding issues not because we want to add to or enhance our educational services. That would require even more funds.
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Should we aspire to offer a better educational product to the students of RC? You bet and we are trying. I think our CC wants to spend our limited funds wisely and therefore this is the season of exploration and consideration of options. Hence, the consolidated school does offer many enhancements that a smaller high school cannot and that opens the door on confusing magnet with consolidated. Again, my individual opinion and it does not represent the RC School Board or any one else.

Type of School

If Roane county built the school Mr. Harmon proposes it would likely be a comprehensive high school. This type of school offers more that just basic academic courses but has college prep and expanded vocational courses.

But, whatever the label -- magnet, consolidated, combined, comprehensive, or whatever - the funding and building issues will be the same.

A question for Messrs. Overstreet and Nall

We really appreciate your thoughts on this forum, and hope that by your participation and the questions and answers that will arise, we can generate some consensus view and get something done.

So is there a sense that you get that the Board is ready to push for a serious solution to our schools situation?

Old school traditions and loyalties have to be put secondary to creating a new Roane County and every solution needs to be on the table for a good airing. Otherwise, we won't get the buy-in we need to get something done in the face of a County Commission that seems to love their jails and their industrial parks more than OUR children's education.

I don't think it's an either/or love, WC...

Quoth WC: "County Commission that seems to love their jails and their industrial parks more than OUR children's education."

I know you think I just don't get it, and I reckon I can live with that :-) And I'm not a member or nor a lackey for the County Commission. They often do things that... uh... "aggravate" me (trying to be no more than M-rated).

That being said, I don't think it's a matter of loving - or even liking - jails or industrial parks more than children's education.

Liking an industrial park or quality education for our children is NOT an either-or proposition. It's a both-and. They can't exist in isolation from each other.

Last time I looked, to build schools, pay teachers, and create new and innovative programs, ONE of the things required is money. Don't even start with the lecture that we can't solve all school problems by merely throwing money. The fact is that to do these things takes money. Either of the School Board members conversing in this forum correct me if I'm wrong.

PART of the money deal is that it is in finite supply. Let's throw the jail out of the picture... that's about $10 mil. Given what the BOE said they needed for our schools, even if we didn't do the jail and added that $10 mil back into the picture, we'd STILL be $37 mil short. So how ya gonna get money. The feds won't let us print it and spend it. So...

We work on doing things like developing an industrial park that can help the financial status - ultimately - of the county. It's an investment, and it takes time for payouts, like any investment. But you can't ignore the aspect of generating new dollars if you want to soend new dollars on school improvement.

Yet - having an excellent educational system is part of what draws new business and even new industry to a county. The two feed each other. And we become penny wise and pound foolish when we forget that we need both processes working in order to have a progressive county.

The only problem is this... there's not always enough money to go around. This finite resource is such that sometimes choices have to be made that mean we don't get to invest in everything every year.

But I think it's a problem to separate the two as if they exist independently in a vacuum. They don't.

RB

RB,

In the time Roane County has been arguing about how much it is going to cost to build a new school, Cumberland County built Stone Memorial High School and it is beautiful.

Over ten years ago some other folks and I brought several people in to talk to the Industrial Board about Community development and recruiting business. One of the things pointed out was that Roane County had five times the industrial acreage per capita of Knox County and Loudon County at the time had less than 150 acres in industrial land. Both have out recruited us many times over. Industrial parks are a dubious venture for Counties and yet here we go, spending more money on one and it isn;t even in our own county and we won't get any of the direct tax benefit.

At the same time the Commission is approving $2.5 million dollars for that and $10.7 million for a jail that could be built for $2.5-4 million, they denied the School Board's request for emergency capital funding.

Roane County not only CAN do better than that...Roane County HAS to do better than that.

Industrial Parks don't pay back anywhere near their cost. Good Schools do...Many times over.

The problem in Cumberland County, however,

is MONEY. To be specific, a LACK thereof. Last week they had to have an emergency session of the County Commission just to do enough emergency funding to keep schools in session this week, with the contingency being that if no more money is found, after this week, Cumberland County Schools close. Did they spend too much money on one school to keep all of 'em open?

If the Cumberland County system was doing so well, I doubt they would be in this situation. There's one example I don't care to follow.

If you believe they could have built the jail for $2.5 mil, I have some desert acreage in Okeefenokee Swamp I need to talk to you about.

One thing I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with you about, however, is the idea of community development and recruiting BUSINESS. I'm sorry to break it to some folks who have been waiting for the county to find some sugar-daddy INDUSTRY, but it ain't gonna happen. The golden age of industry and plant or mill towns is over. It has been replaced by technology and business.

I'd like to see some objective info about industrial parks never paying their way... I've seen places where they've done wonders. Check out Decatur, AL.

RB

Taj Ma Jail

I didn't mean to say I could build the over sized gold plated monster that is going to cost a lot more in site prep than they estimated. The jail problem could have been solved for the range of expenditure that I noted and several proposals to that effect were presented.

I'd like to see some objective info about an industrial park "Paying" its way. Particularly the one in Cumberland and Morgan and Not Roane County.

Surely there's some process and number crunching that the Commissioners went through that makes some sense. As it is...We have nothing from them in this regard.

Cumberland County facts are wrong, sorry.

Cumberland County has one of, if not the lowest, property tax in the state and the state has pointed out they have a better ability to pay than most all other counties in the state. Therefore, their BEP funding was significantly cut this past year. The state is asking that the county value education by contributing more of the funding than they do presently. It looks like a power struggle where their BOE did not back down and have insisted the county fund their needs, period. The county commission for whatever reason isn’t willing to make the concession at this time. It's really a poor reflection on the Cumberland County. Their retirees are willing to pay more taxes to help the schools because they do understand it must be done. In Cumberland Co., it seems to clearly be about power, not a lack of funding sources.

That isn't the case in Roane County where the dollars are in short supply. I think our commissioners will fund our schools but the public must speak loudly that is a priority. The CC is trying to be thoughtful of how they spend their limited funds. It isn’t about a power trip here in Roane County. It about how to manage with limited funds.

I encourage our CC to invest in our schools; industry will appreciate it. It all starts with a good healthy and educated workforce. Our schools need to play our part in moving our county forward.

Before I respond to Mr. WhitesCreek, I'd like to see how others comment on this broader subject.

This is a good forum for our county. I encourage others to share their thoughts.

Which Cumberland Facts are wrong, Tyler?

I was unclear about what you meant with that statement.

I can readily agree, however, that comparing the two counties' financial situation is an apples and oranges, deal, however. You mentioned the retirees in Cumberland County. They are a significant financial resource that we don't have in the same way or the same numbers in Roane. The "Glade" folks and others have come from all over, where property values are higher or inflated - anyway, they retired, have their pensions, and sold their homes for a gazillion times what land & housing costs in our area, and now that they have re-settled in Tennessee, are quite financially capable of making a significant contribution in taxes for their schools, etc.

It is interesting to know that their BEP was cut. That could be a troublesome issue if they want to extend that to Roane as well.

I do agree it's about how to get by with not as many dollars as we'd like in Roane County. It's not about having the money available and just being pissy about letting go of it.

RB

RB,

Cumberland was in danger of losing $36 million in state funds because they were operating with no budget. Follow some of the links and read them.

Sorry, WC...

Guess I didn't see/just missed links in this thread explaining that.

RB

No worries

;>)

Sorry if I'm a bit short...deleting spammers

GOOD for you!

"Sorry if I'm a bit short...deleting spammers"

That's what I call a worthwhile project. We're ALL glad you're doing that!

RB

CAPTCHA?

A CAPTCHA might cut down on the spam. If you need help, please let me know. :)

-- OneTahiti

I may do that. Thanks.

I may do that. Thanks.

Cumberland County does have money.

RB,

You stated it was a bout a lack of money. I would agree if they (CC) did not have the resources to fund but they have elected not to offer the school system the necessary funding that was strongly, desperately, recommended by their own BOE. This has been an ongoing issue for several years; hence, the state cutting BEP funds to the county in what must be an "attention getter" technique.

Thanks, Tyler...

Thanks to clarifying info received on this forum, I understand what you mean, I believe. In one sense it was lack of money, but only in the sense that the County Commission didn't want to let go of it! Big difference in not having resources at all, and just deciding the resources weren't gonna be used for the school system. Makes sense to me.

I only hope the 2 X 4 the state used in cutting BEP funding was a big enough one to sufficiently wake them up. Fer sure Cumberland County has its own set of political problems.

So ultimately, what came across in the news items I saw about funding for the schools there was lack of money ONLY based on refusal of the Commimssion to allocate it to the schools.

Thanks for the discourse!

RB

Sense of Urgency?

"So is there a sense that you get that the Board is ready to push for a serious solution to our schools situation?"

I can't speak for the other Board members, but I for one am ready to push for a serious solution. From the Kingston side, all I see is continued growth. Kingston high school in 2004 was 709 students, 677 in 2006 and as of last week over 800. This is a 100+ increase in two years. Kingston elementary had its largest Kindergarten class register this year. This year they lose their smallest class -- 5th grade which will be moving into Cherokee middle school. This means that next year we may have to add another portable there because all their classes will be big. Growth is hear to stay.

The school building program needs has achieved public awareness and our school facilities are reaching a critical state of usefulness -- we have to act now while this awareness exists. There is a school liaison committee meeting with County Commission reps and a school board facilities meeting in the next week where building options will be discussed.

That's good news

There is a school liaison committee meeting with County Commission reps and a school board facilities meeting in the next week where building options will be discussed.

I thought Cherokee was overcrowded too? The gym is way too small. But every school I know of is in the same boat.

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