BMA votes to send Jonesborough School proposal for approval

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Plans to build a new school in Tennessee’s oldest town moved forward Thursday morning.

Members of the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Alderman met to vote on a proposal for a new Jonesborough K-8 school.

Jonesborough leaders voted unanimously to send the proposal to the Washington County school board and commission.

“Overall, I think it’s a win for all three parties and I can’t see how it will not pass with an overwhelming majority of people,” said Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest.

The proposed site for the school is on North Cherokee Street/Tavern Hill Road.

As WJHL’s Anslee Daniel reported Wednesday, the plan would be for the town of Jonesborough to build the school and lease it to Washington County and the Board of Education.

“I’ve been in public education going on 40 years and I’ve never heard of anything like it, at least in this end of Tennessee,” said Washington County Director of Schools Bill Flanary.

Members of the Board of Mayor and Alderman discussed lease terms with attorneys following the meeting.

Conceptual plan for the proposed Jonesborough K-8 school.

The decision to purchase the land comes after the town of Jonesborough decided it needed to replace worn soccer fields at Persimmon Ridge Park.

“For the town, it felt like that would be a good marriage, ” said Vest, “in the long run, it will save money if we all join together to accomplish what our town wants to accomplish and what the school board needs to accomplish.”

During the meeting, Mayor Vest addressed the privacy of the process.

“It was never our intention to not be transparent with all parties,” he said, “but we had no greater fear than getting the communities hopes up and realizing our effort wouldn’t work.”

“The privacy was also important to prevent speculators and developers from complicating the success of this project,” Vest added.

The proposed plan will cost $32 million, according to Vest. He said that number is on the higher-end of the possible cost spectrum.

“I’d be disappointed if this project is not under $30 million and it has the potential to go well below that,” said Vest.

Both Vest and Washington County Director of Schools Dr. Bill Flanary agree they want the exterior to fit with historic Jonesborough.

“For me, we’ve got a very beautiful senior center here in town that’s got a timeless design and for me I’d like to see a school that fits that mode,” said Vest.

The proposal now heads to the school board.

“This board and this school system knows a thing or two about building,” said Flanary.

The Washington County Board of Education has a special called meeting Thursday, August 29th to discuss the school proposal.

Washington County Commission Chair Greg Matherly said they will consider the funding for the school after the board of education makes its recommendation.

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