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County school board votes to replace Jonesborough Elementary roof

Hannah Swayze • Updated Feb 8, 2019 at 8:56 PM

A motion to replace the roof at Jonesborough Elementary School passed during a Washington County School Board of Education meeting Thursday night.

The issue of the roof, which has been in need of repair for at least three years, has been brought before the board several times. Board member Todd Ganger introduced the topic again during his report from the facilities committee.

“To cover the system, to take care of the kids — because there are kids in there learning — we need a new roof,” said Ganger, citing both a legal and an educational reason the roof should be replaced.

Board members have been hesitant to make significant changes to the structure because of the lack of concrete plans for a new K-8 Jonesborough school. While Scheme 6, the current plan, does not state explicitly what will happen to the school, there have been talks of tearing it down, using it for storage and more.

Most recently, the delay in the plan comes from indecision in the Washington County Health, Education and Welfare Committee on whether to buy a property included in the plan because of complicated restriction from the seller.

However, only hours before, the committee cast an “ugly” vote to send two separate resolutions to the Washington County Budget Committee, one to move forward Scheme 6 and one to buy the additional property. 

Board member Mary Beth Dellinger, a former teacher, said she was disappointed in the vote. She said she was afraid that putting a new roof on the school will send the wrong message to the county commission. She does not want the commission to abandon Scheme 6, leaving the students in the sub-par buildings for many more years.

“I’m afraid that (the decision) just gave the County Commission an out,” said Dellinger.

The vote was 6-3 Mitch Meredith, Todd Ganger, David Hammond, Chad Fleenor, Jason Day and Annette Buchanan voting in favor and Mary Beth Dellinger, Phil McLain and Keith Ervin voting against.

At the conclusion of the meeting, board chairman Ervin said he believes the committee made a mistake.

Though the vote has been cast, the roof is not a done deal. In a month, Bill Flanary, director of schools, will go before the county Washington County Health, Education and Welfare Committee committee to request the funds.

The exact cost of the project is unknown, but the last estimate from a December board meeting was $900,000.

Flanary said that the money is there, but whether or not the commission will designate funds for the roof is a different question. He anticipates a lot happening in the next 30 days.

“I would not want to be a county commissioner,” said Flanary.

Despite the pushback, Ganger said he sticks with his decision and said he did the right thing.

“Bottom line is I know the board does differ, but everybody has the best intentions, without a doubt,” said Ganger.

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