Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mayor Ragsdale Has To Balance The Budget. But, He Should Leave Carter Elementary

This breaking news came on the Sentinel website this afternoon. While I believe that the Sentinel and in particular this writer, Lola Alapo may and probably did get the context of the quote wrong, thus creating a misleading story. While I also believe it is VERY pre-mature (based on a one sentence quote from an entire meeting) to guess what the Mayor's budget will look like before it is presented on May 14, 2008 at 8:15 a.m.. I have some thoughts on this issue.

My desire is to see that the Carter Elementary design dollars remain in the budget and the project on track. You ask, why would Brian Hornback care about the design dollars for Carter Elementary? My reason is because one year ago (May 2007) during the Mayor's budget address, he brought a young girl (an elementary age girl) up on stage. She had written the Mayor a note and handed it to him at the conclusion of a Carter Elementary PTA program. In the note she asked the Mayor for a new school. At the budget address he thanked her for the letter and told her that the design money will be in this years budget. While government and politics may change. Government should not renege on commitments made to our children.

I personally do not believe that Mayor Ragsdale wants to go back on his and the Commissions word to the Carter community.

But, here is the problem that Mayor Ragsdale and the County Commission are in.

The School Board in the Capital Plan Budget for next year that they voted on and approved last month, they did NOT ask for a replacement for Carter Elementary, while they have owned land for the replacement school for six years. They didn't ask for a NEW Southwest Knox County Elementary, even though a Farragut Alderman has and is attempting to violate the State Sunshine law to purchase land for a school that the school board hasn't even asked for. The School Board didn't ask for a replaced New Hopewell Elementary School, while they have owned land the past six years for a replacement school. They didn't ask for a replacement for Adrian Burnett Elementary School, while they have owned land for a replacement school for over 12 years.

The School Board DID NOT request the NEW Hardin Valley Academy High School to relieve the overcrowded conditions that have existed for the past 15-20 years in the area high schools. It was only because the Knox County Mayor and Knox County Commission recognized the problem and paid for the new high school with the dollars collected by the wheel tax.

It is obvious that the school board lacks the vision to recognize what is needed for the schools in Knox County. Their Capital Plan is only requesting $14 million dollars next year, with a majority of those dollars going to; $5 million for Physical Plant Upgrades, $5 million for roofs/hvac, $2.0 plus million for renovations to Ball Camp Elementary, yet another West Knox County School.

While the state statute does not give the school board the exclusive authority over capital construction. of schools. Sources indicate that a discussion may be forthcoming this budget year, to remove the capital from the school board and place sole responsibility for schools capital in the hands of Knox County government.

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