Sullivan school plan calls for closure of 2 high schools, consolidation of other facilities

Sullivan school plan calls for closure of 2 high schools, consolidation of other facilities (Image 1)

Sullivan County would have two high schools instead of four under a long-term facilities plan submitted by the Director of Schools Thursday night, and one of the closed high schools would be sold to the City of Kingsport.

Dr. Jubal Yennie’s recommendation came after a consultant’s report on ways to improve efficiencies in a system with multiple costly and, in many cases, underutilized facilities.

Highlights of the plan include:  

– consolidation of Sullivan County’s four high schools into two new schools in the central and eastern sections of the county
– construction of a new $65 million 1,700 student facility in the center of county offering expanded Career and Technical Education   
  courses.  The new school would take students from Sullivan North, Sullivan South, and Sullivan Central.
– renovate Sullivan East with expanded Career and Technical Education courses at cost of $8 million
– construct a $19 million middle school in eastern Sullivan County
– replace Sullivan East High School by 2028 with a new high school
– open a new Mary Hughes Elementary school in the east zone
– open a new elementary school in the central zone
– convert Ketron Elementary to a K-8 facility in the north zone
– Colonial Heights Middle School and Sullivan Middle School would consolidate into a renovated Sullivan South Middle School
– close Sullivan North High School and sell the building to the City of Kingsport.

The Sullivan County Board of Education and the Kingsport City Schools Board of Education will meeting together on June 16th to “discuss the master facilities planning study and possibly negotiate the transfer of excess county facility space.”

Yennie estimates his recommendations will save Sullivan County about $5 million annually in operational costs.

“Now is the time for us to take the next step and do what is necessary as we continue to strengthen our school system and our ability to offer a quality education for our students,” said Dan Well, Sullivan County BOE chairman.

The cost-saving consolidation and reorganization study comes as student enrollment declines.   Currently, there’s room county-wide for an additional 3,600 students, and projections call for student enrollment to decline for another decade.

“It’s imperative and fiscally responsible for our school system to develop a plan that is based on the number of students who reside in the county,” Dr. Yennie said.

The plan is available online for parents to inspect, and the website includes a platform for community feedback.

Copyright 2015 WJHL.  All rights reserved.

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