ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Parents of Carter County Schools children are planning to meet outside of the Carter County Board of Education meeting Thursday evening to protest a financial study that if implemented would close several schools in the school system.
Jo Jaime, Carter County Schools parent, said that she believes closing down schools will cause a variety of issues for people like teachers, single parents or those who live in more rural areas.
“We have second and third generations that go to these schools, people who have worked really really hard to be where they’re at,” Jaime said. “I feel like they’re not giving the community an opportunity to find a better solution.”
Keenburg Elementary and Little Milligan Elementary are among those recommended schools to close.
The Board of Education meeting will take place Thursday, Feb. 18 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will be held as a Facebook Live for public viewing.
Sandra Greene, Carter County Schools parent, started a petition that as of Wednesday afternoon had over 500 signatures.
“They do the zoom calls for the board meetings and they don’t even acknowledge that anybody’s there, so we can’t be there in person to say hey we’re not ok with this,” Sandra Greene, Carter County Schools Parent, said. “I done that for us to try to have a voice and hopefully stop them from closing our schools.”
Tracy McAbee, Carter County Director of Schools, said there are many discussions to be had before the board votes on whether or not to close any schools.
“Moving forward, now that they’ve received the study, now the discussion begins as to is the timeline, is it reasonable or not,” McAbee said “Do the findings sound reasonable, or not.”
McAbee said there will be a vote tomorrow on the study, but it will be just to confirm payment for Dr. Keith Brewer, who conducted the study, not a vote on implementing any of the study suggestions.
“It is just to make payment to Dr. Brewer,” Tony Garland, Carter County Board of Education Chairman, said. “Then we will start our fact-finding and different things.”
Garland said the need for cost redistribution for the school system comes down to a drop in enrollment over the last ten years.
“We just want to move that money around to where we can actually offer more, should we choose to potentially close a facility,” Garland said.
Garland said a final decision on whether to close a school or not would likely not be made for a few more months.
“I hope that our community is behind us,” Jaime said. “I hope that they’re willing to save our schools.”