Range Elementary School. (Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
ELIZABETHTON — The old Range Elementary School may soon be on the auction block.
The Carter County Board of Education approved a motion by newly-elected Chairman Ronnie McAmis to authorize board attorney John Banks and Carter County Finance Director Ingrid Deloach to explore ways to dispose of the school building and property. The school was closed at the end of the past school year in May and most of the children transferred to Central Elementary.
Banks said he has already looked at the school board’s deed to the Range property and said he found “no reverters or strings attached. It looks like a real clean deed.”
Banks said a reverter requires the property to be returned once it is no longer used for educational purposes. Banks has also discussed the disposition of the property with Carter County Attorney Keith Bowers Jr.
Banks said the school board has the power to dispose of the school and campus as surplus property, or the board could donate it.
Banks recommended the board should reserve the right to reject all offers and that the final offer should come back to the board for final approval.
“I think we need to move forward with this because it will take time,” board member Rusty Barnett said.
Banks and Director of Schools Kevin Ward agreed.
“This is not like a residence,” Banks said. “There is a smaller number of people interested in this.”
“The longer the property sits, the more deterioration there is,” Ward said. “There is also more vandalism.” He said vandals have already broken two windows.
Whatever the final offer for the old school, Banks guaranteed it would more than cover the amount the school system paid for the property at the turn of the 20th century.
“The deed shows $290 was paid. I think we can do better than that.”
In other matters, Ward said he signed the petition circulated by Tullahoma City School Superintendent Dan Lawson which has criticized the State Board of Education.
“I singed the petition because I think we are asking a lot of our teachers.” Ward told the board. “I don’t disagree with reform, but as we look at the pace of the reform ... I am all for doing better. We are going to do what is right. But, I feel the teachers are feeling overwhelmed and morale has suffered.”
Ward said “we need a dialogue with the governor and the commissioner (of education). The teachers are where the rubber meets the road. They are asking ‘when do we have time to teach?’ ”
Ward and Elementary Supervisor Dan Winters discussed plans for enrichment and remediation. They said the need for more interventionists will require an allocation of funds. Ward said it was too late this fiscal year for the reallocation. He said it is law and will be accomplished.
The board also elected new leaders during the meeting. McAmis was elected chairman and David Buck was elected vice chairman.