|PTO speaks out on middle school|
|Wednesday, November 28, 2012|
By SABRINA GARRETT
TUCKERS CROSSROADS -- Roaches? College students and other adults on campus? Deplorable conditions? No SRO officer? These are just a few of the concerns that Tuckers Crossroads Elementary parents brought up at a Tuesday afternoon meeting in regards to the Wilson County Board of Education proposal to turn the former Lebanon High School into a middle school. The school building is not currently being used, except for the sports facilities and fields which were renovated and are being used by Cumberland University Athletics.
At the last meeting of the Wilson County Commission, Director of Schools Mike Davis informed commissioners and citizens of their proposed plan that would turn the facility into a middle school to meet the needs of a growing student population in schools like Carroll Oakland Elementary, which many parents have said is bursting at the seams for expansion or an additional school in the county. However, many parents at Tuckers Crossroads brought issues into light that question if the proposed plan is the best option for their children.
Davis said yesterday in an interview with The Wilson Post that the former LHS building was built in three phases – and that the older, decrepit parts of the school would not be used. “We have no intent of using the old sections,” he said of the areas built in 1954 and 1972. At the meeting parents questioned the state of the building in total, with some saying they had heard of roaches and rats living in the school walls.
On Saturday, the Board of Education will host a work session to tour the facility at 9 a.m., TXR Principal Susie Breedwell said. One parent, Tammy Hunt, brought up the fact that parts of the building had been freshly painted – comparing it to “pretty icing on a rotten cake” that would distract viewers from underlying problems. In an interview, Davis said that the purpose of the paint was to simply erase markings associated with Lebanon High School and the Blue Devils on the walls. “All we did was paint some areas,” he said. “That has been planned.”
County Commissioner Mike Justice was just one of the parents with concerns over the plan. “I can give you 500 reasons why it’s a bad idea and only one it is a good idea,” Justice said before answering questions about the condition of the building from the crowd gathered in the TXR library. “What I am pushing for is the Fire Marshal not to do one of these ‘Okay – you can move in but you have three years to fix it’ type of deals. What you have to worry about is this new fire marshal’s report. As a parent I can fight it all day long, but as a commissioner I can’t tell the Board of Education what to do.”
Justice noted that as a commissioner, he will never vote “a nickel to put a kid in that school.” He said that since the proposed plan was unveiled, he has received over 700 emails and phone calls from parents at each of the schools mentioned in the plan to merge hundreds of students into a new middle school. These schools include TXR, Carroll Oakland Elementary and Southside Elementary in Lebanon.
“It is overwhelmingly ‘no.’ It was portrayed that Carroll Oakland PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) was for it. I was bombarded with calls from parents who said the PTO does not speak for them,” Justice said.
One parent at TXR brought up the question of if Mike Davis was up for reappointment at the Monday, Dec. 3 meeting of the Board of Education at 6 p.m. “On the topic of the director – he has got a tough job,” Justice said. “He is at the will of the Board and not the will of the people. My personal belief is that the school superintendent should be elected like it used to be,” Justice said.
A TXR teacher added that a larger middle school would take away from the educational and emotional values that students receive in smaller schools like Tuckers. “We have this sense of community. We are able to give them the support that they need. I just feel like if we pull them out of this school they are going to lose that nurturing aspect,” she said.