SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Emotions were running high as hundreds of parents, students, and teachers gathered at Northeast State Community College Thursday night, to have their voices heard.
One father at the podium says, "you talk about overcrowding, but let's look at the ones that aren't overcrowded. Let's look at the success those schools are having. To me that's what's important. Instead of trying to find a way to get rid of these teachers, we should be trying to find a way to get a few more in."
The public hearing gave these people a chance to defend their schools they love so dearly.
A mother stated, "here we are again, one year later fighting for our school after you promised we were safe."
We've learned the decline in students over the years is the main reason for the rezoning. "More importantly it's figuring out where we are as a system to be able to offer the programs we offer students not only this year, but next year," says Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie.
There are three different scenarios on the table, and at this meeting, Dr. Yennie announced his recommendation, which was scenario three. That would consolidate Sullivan South and Sullivan North High Schools in Kingsport, and one of those would become a middle school.
Colonial Heights and Sullivan Middle School would be closed, and North Middle would be expanded or students transferred.
"I have to make a recommendation," Dr. Yennie continues. "The board doesn't have to [accept], they can say 'thank you Dr. Yennie,' they can not accept that recommendation and we can go back and do it again."
But we did learn, even though it doesn't guarantee forever, they will not rezone any schools next year. "That's one of the reasons we're doing this, we want to hear the voices, we want to hear what folks have to say and we want to be able to improve schools in Sullivan County," Dr. Yennie says.
The next step is in two weeks. The board of education is scheduled to vote on a decision March 28.