Roane County commissioners vote "no" on school consolidation plan

ROANE COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- According to Roane County News, in an 11 to 2 vote commissioners decided not to pursue a plan that would consolidate three schools Monday night.

About 700 students walk the halls of Roane County High School in Kingston. Landon Hardin was one of them more than a decade ago.

"The school has definitely seen better days," Hardin said.

He said it's time for an upgrade. Roane County High and others have been open for more than 60 years.

"I would love to see our teachers have some of the facilities that our surrounding counties have, I think that they deserve it," Hardin said.

The school system wants to take Roane County High, Rockwood High and Harriman High, and put them in one brand new building.The planned facility isn't cheap; the county expects it to cost about $70 million. A proposed $50 wheel tax could make that happen.

"Rural systems just cannot afford five high schools any more," Director of Schools Gary Aytes said. "We can't afford to do the programs that we have to do to make sure our students are ready to enter the work force in Roane County."

The new building would be in Harriman off of Roane State Highway, near Roane State Community College. Hardin says he gets it, nobody likes new taxes, but believes everyone should pay their part to help the schools get better.

"I think that every citizen that drives pays the wheel tax, renters, property owners, from all different income levels are paying the same amount," Hardin said.

The wheel tax would last for 15 years. The first 10 years all $50 would go to the new building. The last five years $30 would go to the new building, the other $20 to the general fund.