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Director hopeful about new LHS funding prospect

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By ZACK OWENSBYThe Wilson Post

People across Lebanon are all excited about the possibility of securing funding to begin construction on a new Lebanon High School.

District 15 Wilson County Commissioner Mike Justice was scheduled to present a resolution to the county Budget Committee Thursday night explaining a process for funding a $50 million bond for the new high school that he worked on with Finance Director Ron Gilbert.

Wilson County Schools Director Mike Davis said he was willing to work with the county to get the new school built. One of the stipulations of the resolution is that the school system not exceed the $50 million budget.

“We will have to make some modifications to the original architectural proposal,” Davis said. “We can do that.”

The original plan included terrazzo flooring throughout the school. Davis said by switching to vinyl tile, the same that was used in the construction of the new Mt. Juliet High School, the district could save some money. He also hoped construction costs would be cheaper today than the time of the original estimate a few years ago.

By moving some funds around, the county could afford the “Build America Bond” without having to raise taxes. This type of bond was specially designed by the federal government to make funding building projects more affordable.

Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Ash said the proposal includes moving $1 million from both the county’s rainy day fund and the three-quarter cents sales tax fund into the debt service fund which would cover the bond note.

Ash said he saw no definite roadblocks that could possibly stall the resolution.

“I’m signing on to it,” Ash said, “and although I can’t speak for the other commissioners, I think we’re all looking forward to doing this.

“I’m happy we didn’t give into the hysteria, to get something that wasn’t feasible or in the best interests of the county,” Ash added.

Another stipulation of the bond is that the school system not ask to build another high school for the next eight years, but Davis said that would be simply because the county would not have any available funds.

Not building another high school for the next eight years “is not a required part of the resolution itself,” Davis said. “I can’t tell you what (county enrollment) will look like in eight years any better than someone eight years ago could predict the situation we are in now.

“We just have to wait and see.”

But Davis shared a cautious optimism with Ash, and many who have dreamed of the day the ground will be broken for a new Lebanon High School.

“I think it’s a giant step forward for Lebanon and all of Wilson County,” Davis said.

Staff Writer Zack Owensby may be contacted at

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