Washington County Commission next to consider new Jonesborough K-8 school plan

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JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – The plan to build a new school and athletic complex in Jonesborough has a second vote of approval.

The Washington County, Tennessee School Board followed the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Alderman in approving the plan that calls for Jonesborough to build the new K-8 school and athletic complex off North Cherokee Street and Tavern Hill Road.

Washington County would lease both properties – eventually owning the school.

Jonesborough would keep the sports complex.

We found out the unconventional plan is drawing criticism from some.

The 48-acre piece of property nestled in the hills on Thompson Meadow Lane could be the future home of the new school and athletic complex.

Thursday night – The Washington County Board of Education unanimously approved the plan.

“We believe that if the county commission can approve this next month, we’ll move forward shortly after that with the purchase,” Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest said.

The next set of eyes on the $32 million project – the Washington County Commission.

“They’ll be discussion about the funding of the payments on the lease. They’ll be discussion on this lease arrangement. This is new, not something we’ve done before,” Washington County Commissioner Jim Wheeler said.

However – some school leaders in Johnson City have raised legal questions about the plans.

Johnson City Board of Education Chair Tim Belisle said Jonesborough students deserve a new school, but he’s concerned this bond plan avoids obligations the county has to share money with the city.

Jim Wheeler is also the Town Attorney for Jonesborough and doesn’t see any legal issues.

“The statute on the sharing of those funds is very clear. It is only when there is a county bond issue which there will not be in this case,” Wheeler said.

Developing this land is not a done deal.

There are still some major hurdles to cross.

Two committee meetings are ahead – if approved – the county commission will have a final look at the end of September.

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