According to the scoreboard, the average student-to-teacher ratio in Carter County, Tennessee is now only twelve to one. A school consolidation game plan may be on the field again, combining the county's four high schools into one new centrally-located school.
"I'll leave that to the school board," County Mayor Leon Humphrey said. "That's their field of expertise. I just know that from a countywide standpoint we're going to have to do something different than what we have in the past. We cannot continue to support the number of schools that we have and all the overhead with it that's part of our financial problem."
Yes, there are a lot of costs to think about when it comes to the school system. But, the principal at Hampton High School tells us there are other costs to consider. "Location is going to be one thing," Principal Jeff Bradley said. "Where would the school be built? Would it add travel distance for the high school students?"
Bradley says maybe a bigger cost would be the loss of a sense of community that binds together those living in it. "Friday night football, or basketball in the gym, our programs that we have at the school," Bradley said. "We don't really have the industry in here anymore to combine the communities, so the school is what makes the community. Bringing four communities together would be very tough."
It's a tough decision. Bradley says if the county is seriously looking at school consolidation, he hopes they really weigh the pros and cons. "There is a lot to consider," he said.
You might remember that Carter County closed the old Range Elementary School in May, 2013 after the student to teacher ratio dropped at that school to nine to one. This consolidation idea is just in the talking stages. Before schools can consolidate, the board needs to put together a plan and move on it.