KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Board of Education has gone on the record: It formally is asking for dibs on any property that becomes available inside the triangle of Eastman Road, Fort Henry Drive and Center Street.
The BOE voted 5-0 Thursday night asking the city to give the school board the first option for any property that becomes available in that triangle, approving a BOE-signed letter to that effect to Mayor Dennis Phillips and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, with copies going to the Planning Commission, city attorney and city recorder.
The triangle — aside from Dobyns-Bennett High School — also is home to J. Fred Johnson Stadium; the former Highway Patrol office, which city engineering staff eventually are leaving for a downtown office; and Legion Pool, which is to be closed sometime after the new aquatic center at MeadowView opens.
“The Kingsport Board of Education respectfully and formally requests the right of first option to utilize land and facilities within the aforementioned boundaries that may become available,” the letter states. “As the student population in KCS (Kingsport City Schools) and specifically Dobyns-Bennett continues to rise through natural growth and annexation, the need to provide adequate school facilities also increases. Over the past few years, the city of Kingsport and KCS have made significant infrastructure additions and improvement on the Dobyns-Bennett campus to meet those needs. However, expected student growth in future years will be met with the reality that a finite amount of space exists for continued growth.”
Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said he has been busy getting details of a stadium renovation proposal so the BOE can decide in December if it wants to move forward with that proposal. The BMA in coming weeks is to address the pool area, including possible location of the carousel there, and the stadium.
In other action, the school board:
• Voted 5-0 to approve applying for a Power of One District to the Top Grant as part of a regional consortium of 14 school districts — all but Rogersville, Johnson City and Greeneville out of 17 public school systems. Federal programs coordinator Lamar Smith said the grant would bring about $20 million to $30 million to provide every grades 6-9 student in the 14 systems with iPads and provide instruction and support for teachers on how to use them for instruction and testing. The grant application is focused on English and language arts.
• Received a report from staff who attended the Eastern States Consortium for Learning and School System Excellence meeting in Indiana in October and learned the consortium, which includes Kingsport and Greeneville school systems, will hold its fall meeting in Kingsport in 2013.
• Voted 5-0, at the behest of member Susan Lodal, to urge federal lawmakers not allow sequestration of federal funding to go into effect in January, cutting federal education funding by 8.2 percent unless Congress intervenes with budget plans. BOE member Andy King said the board needed to emphasize the negatives if that occurred, while Vice President Carrie Upshaw said the PTAs and PTOs should be asked to become involved.
• Voted 5-0 to approve budget amendments, mostly cleaning up finances for capital projects already finished and transferring leftover funds. Yet to be completely funded is a new secure entrance for Jackson Elementary, which Budget Director David Frye said could cost between $50,000 and $150,000 but after board action has just a little more than $21,000 in available funding.