Middle school transition plan discussed by Johnson City leaders

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It’s something board members think will be good for current students… and a projected wave of new students in years to come.

“We really need to do this realignment to allow for that growth in our student population” says Johnson City Schools Board Chair Tim Belisle.

Its a plan that has been years in the making: transition Indian Trail Intermediate and Liberty Bell Middle Schools into two middle schools grades six through eight.

Eventually, the plan calls for the replacement of Towne Acres Elementary School and the construction of another elementary school.

“What we’re wanting to do is build the new facilities to accommodate what we anticipate to be the growth that is coming- not to create growth” says Belisle.

Last year, Johnson City Schools saw an increase of 220 students- that’s about 2% of the overall student population- totaling to about 1/3rd or even 1/2 of the average elementary school-An increase that was unexpected.

“The thought was that growth was going to be flat, so to be consistent with where we were but we continue to grow,” said JCS Superintendent Steven Barnett.

The biggest issues are space and money.

“This is pretty much the last step that we have available to us for the near future to create the capacity to take care of our student population. There’s no more money that’s available to us short of some change in the county funding mechanism,” said Belisle.

With numbers steadily increasing a new school will need to also be in the works.

“We have growing enrollment, so within another 5-10 years we really need to seriously start talking about an additional elementary school,” said Barnett.

But, overall this plan would bring more opportunity and leverage for the community.

“There has been a fair amount of interest in the citizens of Johnson City in having an additional middle school to provide additional opportunities for students,” said Belisle.

This plan is expected to be completed within two to three years. But with enrollment continuing to rise- the plan could continue to outgrow itself.

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