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Sullivan County school board approves $54 million contract to build new high school

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) - The Sullivan County Board of Education has approved a multi-million dollar contract to build the county's new high school.

West Ridge High School, which will be constructed off of Lynn Road, is scheduled to be completed by fall of 2020.

The school will consolidate students from Sullivan North, Sullivan South and Sullivan Central High School.

More than a 100 concerned parents lined up in the doorway during the meeting, anxious to learn about the future of West Ridge High School.

It comes just a month after school board members voted 4-3 to delay the vote after they learned they were millions of dollars over budget.

School board members approved the $54 million dollar contract with J.A. Street & Associates with a 5-2 vote. Board members Mark Ireson and Jane Thomas voted against the contract, while Chairman Michael Hughes, Vice Chairman Randall Jones and members Matthew Spivey, Jerry Greene and Dan Wells voted for the contract.

For Thursday's election, Hughes faces challenger Derrick Paduch and Wells faces challenger Paul Robinson.

Greene is not seeking re-election.

Once the board approved the contract, upset parents started leaving in the middle of the meeting.

The school board also approved a $4.8 million contract with J.A. Street & Associates to build the school's football stadium and baseball fields, funding that will come from the board's savings.

The board voted to not allow for public comment during Wednesday's meeting.

School Board Member Mark Ireson raised concerns of the land after he said he spoke with a geoservices expert, who said the land needed to be re-evaluated. Ireson presented a map of what he said were anomalies on the land for West Ridge High School.

Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski rejected his claim.

"We do have GEOS Tech firm onboard," Rafalowski said. "They are monitoring both of our properties, the middle school, as well as the high school, daily. As of to date, there have been no concerns."

Ireson then went on to say he spoke to a consultant with the Department of Education's Office of Local Finance, who claimed the board misused $1.1 million of federal funds.

"She said she is going to start a compliance action plan to say Sullivan County violated federal law in spending its money," Ireson said during Thursday's meeting.

News Channel 11 obtained documents which show the Sullivan County School district was in full compliance with ESEA and IDEA programs during a review in February.

 

 


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