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School board needs at least $8 million more to renovate Jonesborough elementary

School leaders talk plans for K-8...

The Washington County Tennessee school system is short at least $8 million, needed to renovate its school in Jonesborough.

The school board plans to renovate Jonesborough Elementary to become a K-8 school. Then it would turn Jonesborough Middle into a magnet school. On Thursday night, it got its first look at projected costs.

After learning of the possible prices, school leaders decided to push back a vote on a design plan. School leaders said they need to meet with the county commission to look at other possible ways to pay for everything. 

Built decades ago, it seems this round building is here to stay. Plans call for the school to be renovated to become the new Jonesborough K-8 school.

"There's going to be something magical about that K-8 school," Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton said.

The current middle school would turn into a magnet school, an alternative for students in the county.

"I think the people of Jonesborough should be honored about that," board chairman Jack Leonard said.

But some parents want to know why Boones Creek got a new school and they have to settle for renovations.

"We don't want to patch up problems," parent Joshua Ledford said. "We want to see the problems fixed."

Parents said the open floor plan doesn't work for classrooms and the building is getting old.

"It creates a huge distraction for all of the kids that are in the 3rd and 4th grade," Ledford said. "And it creates a huge distraction for the teachers."

But Halliburton said they're doing what they can within their budget.

"Our architects are telling us it's structurally sound," she said.

All of these issues have gained more attention because of Coach Gerald Sensabaugh, who's been vocal on Facebook about his concerns.

"He brought up a lot of good points," Ledford said.

"There's definitely a need of someone of that stature to raise awareness," parent Natalie Hilton said.

But school leaders said updating these schools has been their priority long before Coach Sensabaugh spoke up.

"That's why the county commission raised taxes so that we could make these improvements," Leonard said. "A long time before anyone else decided to make statements about how our schools were."

We expected to see Coach Sensabaugh at the meeting, but we only saw a couple of his supporters.

As for the funding, school leaders said they may have to make compromises. But they won't know exactly what their options are, until they meet with the county commission.


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