Washington County School Board pushes ahead on new Jonesborough school despite price increase

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JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Washington County Board of Education voted unanimously to move forward with plans to construct a new K-8 school in Jonesborough, even though the price tag could increase by $10 million.

The pandemic-induced price increases in construction materials will incur an increase to the original $32 million budget. That could push the price to as high as $42 million, but the district will not know the final cost until next week.

“It’s out of everyone’s control,” Superintendent Jerry Boyd said. “Labor and material supply costs have increased everywhere.”

Washington County Schools is leasing the new Jonesborough School, a 140,000 square foot facility off North Cherokee Street, from the Town of Jonesborough.

The town took out a loan to pay for the school, and the district will start paying for that in 2024. On Thursday, board members considered how the increase in price would impact their previous agreement to pay $2.6 million each year for the next 30 years to Jonesborough. That money will come from property tax revenue, allocated through the county’s Educational Capital Projects Fund.

Included in that $2.6 million is $500,000 to Johnson City Schools as part of a local agreement. That means $2.1 million paid yearly for the new school loan.

Board member Whitney Riddle said that amount should still be able to pay for the increased price.

“The money’s already there. I think moving forward would be what we need to do,” Riddle said.

Boyd said the increased cost could reduce funding for maintenance and other projects. He added the new school is a necessary upgrade over the existing Jonesborough Elementary and Middle Schools.

“It’s a really good design for a school,” Boyd said. “It’s going to serve the Jonesborough community in the K-8 levels for many, many years.”

On Friday, the Washington County Budget Committee will meet to discuss the project’s funding.

If all goes to plan, construction crews could begin leveling the ground on the property in October.

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