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County mayor leaves school decision with board
Dec 05, 2012 4:30 pm
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said Tuesday he doesn’t want the decision of how best to deal with overcrowding at three Wilson County elementary schools.
Rather, he wants to actively seek a way to fund the plan once the Wilson County Board of Education has it in hand.
According to Wilson County Director of Schools Mike Davis, talk of creating a middle school in Lebanon started in 2002 after a decision was made to build a high school in Mt. Juliet and turn the old high school building into a middle school.
He said the idea was approached again in 2007 and 2011 during the time when the new Lebanon High School turned from concept into reality.
Most recently, the board renewed talk of a plan during a work session in November. A vote was asked for at that time, but failed to garner a motion.
The plan on the table included moving 634 sixth- through eighth-graders from overcrowded Southside, Carroll Oakland and Tuckers Crossroads elementary schools into the old Lebanon High School building once renovations were complete.
On Saturday during a work session at the old high school auditorium, architects proposed two additional plans, which include expansions at each of the three middle schools or building a new middle school near the new high school off South Hartmann Drive. The projects range from $2 million to $23 million in cost for construction alone.
A decision from the board is expected in January.
Hutto said once that decision is made, it will be up to the Wilson County Commission to determine how to fund it.
“First of all, it’s the school board’s decision,” Hutto said. “It’s their call on what course of action they plan to take. It’s their call and the commission’s decision on the funding.”
But Hutto said still a fourth plan could be an option.
“There’s also the option of creating another K-8 within the county somewhere,” Hutto said. “Whether they decide to do another K-8 or a middle school is their call, not mine. My only hope is that the community is considered when making the decision.”
Ultimately, Hutto hopes the board will take the people’s concerns and input into consideration when making the decision.
“It has to be workable for all parties,” he said. “They will have to make that decision and bring it to the commission. I would hope they would consider the citizens when making that decision.
“We have had conversations about this issue and what’s best for everybody. To quote [board member] Ron Britt, ‘Economically it could be the best thing, and academically it could be the best thing. But the most important thing is whether it’s doable.’ It’s a big decision. If you can consider all parties, then it becomes a win for all of Wilson County.”
Hutto said whatever decision the board makes, the commission would do its best to fund it without a tax increase.
“They asked us for two renovations this year at Rutland Elementary and Watertown High School,” Hutto said. “We were able to pull off both of them without a tax increase. We had to move some things around, but we were able to do it. We will do that the next time around. They will bring it to us, and we will find the best way to do it.
“The responsibility lies on the county commissioners to fund education. That’s where the responsibility lies.”
Davis announced Monday his resignation as director of schools effective June 30. Hutto, who has 18 years’ experience as a teacher and coach at Lebanon High School and most recently eight years working in the Lebanon Special Schools District Central Office, said he has no interest in seeking the position at this time.
“At this point, my focus is on the county,” Hutto said. “I enjoy doing that. I plan on seeking a second term as Wilson County mayor. I enjoy serving in what I’m doing. I also enjoy education.”
Board Chairman Don Weathers said the board will lay out a plan to replace Davis in January. Hutto said Tuesday no one had approached him about taking over Davis’ position.
“I think someone would have to talk to me about the possibility,” Hutto said. “I wish Mr. Davis well in his next career move. I hope we can get some things done between now and June.”