ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — As the Carter County Board of Education met inside, teachers, students, and parents protested the results of a study that suggested several schools close.
“I do not feel that they should make any decisions based on that report. They’re merely some suggestions and they’re flawed at best,” said Little Milligan Elementary School parent Katie Shoun. “There’s a lot more to take into account than what’s on black and white.”
Protesters gathered ahead of the meeting and listened to it on their phones as they stood on the sidewalk. Some also passed around a petition asking that schools not be closed.
A few board members also came outside to speak with them ahead of the meeting.
“With all of our schools, all of our Carter County schools, why not pass the plate around with our parents? Raise our taxes if need be,” said Keenburg Elementary parent Janice Osborne. “There’s other ways that they can handle this situation without shutting down the schools.”
Little Milligan and Keenburg Elementary would be the first schools to close if the board chose to go with the plan.
“It’s been my whole entire life and it’s been my family,” said Little Milligan first-grader Lincoln Murrow.
Keenburg third-grader Jason Lyons echoed that sentiment. “They won’t just be closing a school. They’ll be closing… we’re not real family but we feel like we’re family,” he said.
The board was only supposed to vote on the payment for the study but after a lengthy discussion and community outcry, they went ahead voted not to close any schools through the 2021-2022 school year.
“You take a school out of a community…you have lost their identity,” said board member Kelly Crain.
Those outside and inside the meeting agreeing, at least for now, that schools shouldn’t be shuttered.
“The best thing that can happen for these children…these are kids that I see every day in my classroom…the best thing that can happen for these children is for their school to remain open and to remain a part of their lives,” said Little Milligan teacher Melissa Davis.