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Board members not keen on idea to consolidate Jonesborough, Boones Creek schools

Jessica Fuller • Updated Feb 17, 2018 at 11:21 PM

The idea of consolidating Boones Creek and Jonesborough K-8 students under one roof raised a lot of questions for two Washington County Board of Education members in response to comments by county mayor Dan Eldridge at a Budget Committee meeting last week.

At that meeting, the mayor suggested an idea he said he’d been discussing with County Commission Chairman Greg Matherly — to add on to Boones Creek K-8 school, which is currently under construction, and consolidate Jonesborough students there.

Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton said at that meeting that she’d be reluctant to see a consolidation, and school board members Mary Beth Dellinger and Philip McLain agree.

McLain said it’s hard for him to wrap his head around the plausibility of the notion — he said he thinks it would be hard to add on to the school as some of the land surrounding the current building is earmarked for the school’s athletic fields, and putting all the students under one roof would amount to about 1,600 students in the building.

This reminds him of the overcrowding situation at Gray School, he added, which eventually led to the building of Grandview and Ridgeview schools.

Dellinger taught at Gray while it was overcrowded — she estimates she worked in that environment for about five years. At the time, that building housed 1,110 students, which plummeted to about 700 after Ridgeview was built, she said.

“It was phenomenal, It was such a big relief,” she remembered.

McLain and Dellinger both suggested that lunchtime would be an issue with so many students in a school. With nine grades needing to use the cafeteria, Dellinger said that she could easily see lunchtimes extending from 10:30 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon just to get lunch for a school that big.

She went on to mention that it might create an overcrowding problem for Daniel Boone High School. Currently, Jonesborough schools feed into David Crockett and Boones Creek schools feed into Daniel Boone. Moving all of the Jonesborough students to Boones Creek would double the number of students feeding into Daniel Boone, as students wouldn’t want to split from their friends and connections to go to different high schools.

As a teacher who once taught in a classroom divided in half by a temporary wall, Dellinger said she thinks a school shouldn’t have more than 800 students in it, and there would be a lot to look into before considering such a consolidation.

“Teachers make the best of the conditions, they make the best of the situations, but as we move forward I wouldn’t want to wish that on anybody,” she said.

 

Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected] Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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