Roane Co. mega-school project put on hold

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KINGSTON, Tenn. (WVLT) -- After months of debates and votes plans for a new Roane County high school have been halted once again.

The Roane County Commission voted 15-0 on Monday against a property tax increase that would help fund the $67 million school. The proposed plan would combine Roane County High School in Kingston with Rockwood and Harriman high schools. The new school was intended to be built at a site near Roane State Community College, but County Executive Ron Woody said the project should take a pause.

"In my opinion there has not been much discussion at all of the unintended consequences like taking on nearly $70 million in debt and a location," Woody said. "Still a lot of things that need to be researched and studied."

Barber Jamey Davis said the school merger is debated in his shop almost daily.

"Numerous times a day, it's usually the first thing out of their mouth after, 'How are ya?' It's the first thing they want to talk about," said Davis.

Parent Robin Melton said she wants to know where her youngest daughter will be going to high school and thinks the school should be built, even if it takes a higher property tax to get it done.

"I love the small community of Kingston and I think that will remain, but the kids need better opportunities and better facilities," said Melton.

County officials said another option for funding the school would be through a wheel tax. That vote is set for November. Woody said until that time, several variables need to be researched before a new mega-school is built.

"They did not have the votes on the commission to adjust the tax rate, which means they did not have the votes to approve the school building program. So I think it would be in everyone's best interest to pause just for awhile and lets take a breather lets go back " said Woody.