Thu
Feb 21 2013
08:07 am

The sale of the old Andrew Johnson building on Gay Street continues to be a topic. A recent KNS article indicates the old Standard Knitting Mills building might be a good location for Knox County Schools headquarters.

There are several old buildings (Knox Heritage Fragile Fifteen) that might be suitable for a new Knox County Schools Headquarters. Not knowing the square footage requirements, which one do you prefer?

Knoxville High School
South High School
McClung Warehouses
Standard Knitting Mills
Andrew Johnson building
Other

75
like
Up Goose Creek's picture

Standard knitting mills

First, it seems to be the right size. Plus having 2 floors instead of many seems like it would foster more interaction.

The biggest factor is having a co-operative owner.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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They could move into Karns High, since it's half-empty and they're already making payments on it (snark).

Bbeanster's picture

The Standard location is

The Standard location is convenient to James White Parkway/I-40, would have lot of free parking for people who want to attend school board meetings and would provide a real boost for the neighborhood.

Up Goose Creek's picture

JWP

Ironically, it is no longer convenient to JWP. But it is convenient to I-40, especially West Knoxville and I-275 with the new Hall of Fame exit.

Of course it could be convenient from JWP with the removal of a concrete barrier at the I-40 E exit - don't know about the safety concerns.

Bbeanster's picture

Define convenient: All you

Define convenient:
All you have to to is follow 6th Avenue, which ends at the Hall of Fame end of JWP in two short blocks. Seems quite convenient to me.

Up Goose Creek's picture

JWP

The deal is that JWP no longer connects with Broadway. You can go to I-40 E or W (and on to 275) but the only way to get to Broadway is to exit at Hill ave and sit through interminable traffic lights as you make your way to Hall of Fame. There would be alternate acess to SKM by way of Jessamine but it wouldn't be obvious.

Sorry to derail the conversation with a transportation peeve of mine. Acess from Chapman highway would be good - is it safe to assume the bridge would be rebuilt before SKM renovations would be complete?

cafkia's picture

Standard Knitting Mills is

Standard Knitting Mills is large enough that they could combine (I think) all of the office and warehouse space into that one location. Given the decent hwy access as well as rail access if anyone ever figures out a way to use it, and given that to the best of my knowledge the area is not prone to flooding, it would have to be the prime candidate.

The McClung Warehouses would also serve for most of the same reasons. However, if in fact the walls and foundations were not compromised by the fire, I would prefer to see them become private sector residential/commercial locations.

Both are easily found as they can each be seen from the interstate. I am not as excited about using the old school buildings. They are typically cut up into classrooms and as such, lack the natural warehousing space. They are not as easily found but OTOH, they might require significantly less renovation (read: money) than the other two.

My vote is for the Knitting Mills.

Big Al's picture

Warehousing?

I agree with Cafkia...I like the knitting location but pardon my ignorance, what does the school board warehouse and where is it now? Is Old Knox High out of consideration---not sure what is there now but I wish the STEM academy had gone there. It bothers me somewhat that the L&N was acquired and after a very short period, talk of unloading Old Knox begins. I don't know much about the school board's needs, but I think residential is a better answer for the AJ so I'm glad they're considering vacating it. Could Old Knox High not be considered for the school board as well?

CathyMcCaughan's picture

The STEM Academy needed to be

The STEM Academy needed to be walking distance from the UT campus. STEM students are on the UT campus regularly, including today.

AnonymousOne's picture

I miss the Knox Sox,

I miss the Knox Sox, K-Jays,and Knoxville Smokies. Maybe this will help the community out there.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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I've followed comments on this all day and while I think it would be grand to repurpose SKM or any number of other vacant or underutilized historic buildings locally...

I think my vote is that KCS properly house the ten or fifteen thousand students now in rusty trailers on back parking lots first.

And my information, albeit a bit old, is that KCS pays ridicuously little for the Central Office digs it has now.

Unless KCS can demonstrate savings to the school system in moving the Central Office to other quarters, I don't think they need to put any such move ahead of a much needed focus on adequately housing students.

Up Goose Creek's picture

Location, location, location

Tamara, I suspect that the county could garner a pretty penny by selling the AJ. Enough to pay for SKM, renovations, and more. I'm sure someone is doing an analysis as we type.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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I've been excited at the prospect of an SKM move, myself.

All I'm suggesting is that, politically, Jim McIntyre would just about have to demonstrate to the public a cost savings to KCS to fend off a riot.

Short of demonstrating a savings, he would at the very least need to assure them that a move didn't cause KCS to voluntarily incur any higher costs.

I'll see if I can reach that former school board member who told me the "ridiculously low" amount KCS pays at the AJ, if I can, and share here.

That number would appear to be the basis for any comparison the public would make, irrespective of the general good the county might recognize from the move.

There was some reason Burchett told KNS he didn't want to "bankrupt the school system," you know?

Up Goose Creek's picture

Prices

Well it doesn't really matter what the county paid for the AJ - what matters is what price they could get for it today. And will that price cover the aquisistion and renovation costs for SKM plus moving expenses.

And like a homebuyer writing a contingency clause that requires the sale of their present home - it would be foolish for the County to buy SKM unless a buyer for the AJ is under contract.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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I've been thinking about it in terms of the public's perception (including mine) of how McIntyre handled the Carter Elementary project.

He caved. He agreed to allocate $13.8 million in capital funding--more like $16 million, after furnishings--on a project for which neither he nor the board really found it necessary to spend that much. If he had just negotiated, say, $5 million for renovations there he might have freed $11 million in funding for other projects.

The public remembers (I remember, too) and I just don't think he needs to come along one year later and cave again by agreeing (initiating?) any increase in occupancy cost for the Central Office.

The Carter Elementary fiasco, the security fiasco, and yet another fiasco, if he were to voluntarily incur a higher Central Office occupancy cost, all in just a year's time, would sure enough shoot holes through his pending budget request.

(Not that I much care for the request he looks poised to serve up--yet again--but he does intend to try to raise base teacher pay this go-around. I'd like to see him succeed in that.)

AnonymousOne's picture

"but he does intend to try to

"but he does intend to try to raise base teacher pay "

Oh hell, he's just throwing that in because he hopes to get the teachers' support...this time.

But this just proves that for an "unelected/nonpolitical" superintendent, he's as political as they come.

Bbeanster's picture

The AJ rent is ridiculously

The AJ rent is ridiculously low because it's subsidized by the taxpayers, sort of like the monthly fee in the employees-only CCB parking garage.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Actually, Betty, I did track down that former school board member this morning and she tells me I "misremember."

She says that, in fact, a decade ago it was her opinion KCS paid far too much at the AJ. She supported their finding new digs.

There's my retraction, then, but I'll stand fast with that assertion that whatever KCS pays at the AJ, McIntyre just needs to make sure any move doesn't cost them any more than that--irrespective of the potential good the county might recognize.

I certainly support preserving historic buildings and revitalizing neighborhoods, it's just that that isn't the primary responsibility of the school system, should the activity cause them to increase their own costs.

I guess we'd just have to know more about how those present and potential occupancy costs compare--and why Burchett said he didn't want to "bankrupt the school system?"

Up Goose Creek's picture

Warehouse

The schools' warehouse is between 5th & Magnolia, east of HOF.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Al, I know KCS warehouses lots of furnishings, anyway.

I recall one of our Project Grad schools trying to raise $$$ to buy folding chairs (which they raised and which they bought), only to learn after the fact that KCS had rooms full to share in their warehouse. I gave to that ill-researched effort myself, in fact!

Kathy, the counter argument previously made WRT locating the STEM academy at the L&N was that it didn't require a central location of any sort, nor did we obligate to create any central location in our RttT grant app.

Some board members thought the program should be delivered within multiple existing high schools, so that no purchase or lease of a building would be required and so that the program could possibly serve more students. Those board members also thought resident "experts" among UT staff, ORNL, and the like could as easily come to students at their various locations within existing high schools.

I personally never expended any effort trying to investigate whether that minority of board members was correct, you understand (the decision to lease the L&N was made pretty hastily), just repeating the counter-argument those folks made at the time.

Rachel's picture

Back when the BOE wanted to

Back when the BOE wanted to tear down old South High, the plan was to build a warehouse on that site. IIRC.

R. Neal's picture

Donila: The schools pay,

Donila:

The schools pay, something like $5 a square foot to the Public Building Authority (in some weird arrangement I've never quite understood), and the folks who own the other place want more than twice that.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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I thought KCS pays rent to Knox County and a separate maintenance fee to PBA?

No, I didn't think to ask that directly of that former school board member this morning...

That $5 per square foot sure does sound more like a maintenance fee than a rent, though, doesn't it?

If KCS truly pays that little rent (contrary to what the former school board member told me this morn), I don't know how they'll ever find any place cheaper.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Well, tried to look up what the market rate is per square foot for commercial space in Knoxville--to confirm my thought that $5 per sounded mighty cheap--but I couldn't quickly find a definitive number.

I gotta run, but if anybody can answer that question I'd sure be curious to look in later and see what the answer is...

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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P..S.-- Here's my stumbling block (well, one of 'em): That former school board member told me KCS "practically bought the building in full every year," but if that's the case AND it's also the case that the total rent and maintenance fee is $5 per square foot, doesn't that mean the former school board member thought a building could be purchased for just $60 ($5 x 12) per square foot???

Did I mention that I know diddly about commercial leases???

Anyway, keen to later read your any further investigation on this...

Mike Donila's picture

maintenance, rent, same

maintenance, rent, same thing, although it used to actually be called rent.

Up Goose Creek's picture

Ownership

Who actually owns the AJ? Also, would the proposed SKM deal be an ownership or lease situation?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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The KNS story didn't specify who actually owns it.

It didn't say whether the SKM deal might be a purchase or a lease, either. It quoted McIntyre as saying KCS is always open to entertaining possible purchase or lease options, either one, is my recollection.

Goose, you're a land baroness. Does that $5 per square foot deal, which I guess includes maintenance, sound cheap to you?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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No, that's wrong. The story said the county bought it in 1991, I think it was, and moved KCS in a year later.

Sorry, still haven't looked up the story, but that's my (most recent) recollection. :-)

S Carpenter's picture

IMHO

Storage facilities go for $3 to $4 a sq ft.

Office space (can vary widely) but probably more like $12 sq ft.

Up Goose Creek's picture

Leases

What SC said. And that is per year, not month. Since the County owns the building that figure is just a bookkeeping entry, not a market based rent. Maybe it covers maintenance and utilities.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Gotcha, SC and Goose.

Yeah, I thought the $5/sq ft was an annual #. In that post I made earlier (at 1:53 p.m.), I multiplied the number by 12 to see if that made plausible the former school board member's assertion that KCS "very nearly bought the building every year."

That math still didn't seem to make her assertion plausible, though, unless she thought ready-to-go commercial space is widely available for purchase at $60 sq ft? All I really know is that that's a heckuva lot cheaper than the house I built came in?

So all three of us, then, are thinking that the deal KCS now has is costing them little more than a self-storage unit? That their cost at the AJ will be pretty hard to beat?

I wish Josh Flory or Carly Harrington would mosey by to give us some context...

Up Goose Creek's picture

?

So all three of us, then, are thinking that the deal KCS now has is costing them little more than a self-storage unit?

Well it's costing the county lost revenue on the building.

Tamara, it's more like if you were renting a house you owned to relatives for a very low rent. Nothing wrong with that. Then someone came along and offered you a premium price for that house. Should you consider buying another house for your relatives if the total cost might be lower and the new house was more suitable to their needs?

BTW, what is the school administration's feelings about this move? Do they feel they benefit from their current location? Would they prefer a different office environment?

bizgrrl's picture

I'm a little selfish on work

I'm a little selfish on work locations. I'd rather be on Gay Street, easy to walk to interesting destinations. Having said that, an office location should probably not be picked based on that criteria.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Tamara, it's more like if you were renting a house you owned to relatives for a very low rent. Nothing wrong with that. Then someone came along and offered you a premium price for that house. Should you consider buying another house for your relatives if the total cost might be lower and the new house was more suitable to their needs?

Yes, yes, I do understand that this appears to be the dilemma from the county's perspective.

I just mean to point out that, from the school system's perspective, McIntyre can't appear to be readily agreeing--much less initiating--any move that would cost the school system more money. He and the Central Office battle a public perception of being spendthrifts, already.

According to Mike Donila, it doesn't now appear that the "total cost" to the school system is likely to be lower at SKM?

This observation contingent, of course, on our getting a clearer understanding of whether or not the school system truly has the bargain now that we imagine it has...

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

I'd say, Goose, that you're looking, from the county's perspective, at the county's stewardship and efficiency.

I'm looking, from the school system's perspective, at political ramifications to McIntyre.

My guess is that neither Burchett nor McIntyre would care to be The Heavy in any move that would ultimately save the county $$$ only as a consequence of increasing costs to KCS?

Up Goose Creek's picture

Costs

It seems you see this as a back door move to raise the "rent" on the school board. I suspect it is motivated by someone wanting to buy the AJ* or sell SKM. It seems like it would be foolish to muddy the water by raising the rent the SB pays.

*Assuming this is the case I would feel better if I knew WHO if anyone, was interested in the AJ and at what price, i.e. the results of a RFP to solicit proposals.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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It seems like it would be foolish to muddy the water by raising the rent the SB pays.

Do you mean, then, that even though Donila has told us SKM's owners will ask more than double the rent the school system pays at the AJ, it may be that Burchett is mulling having the county absorb that difference, so that the school system's rent doesn't go up?

Do you think it plausible that Burchett might choose to absorb that difference?

I'm asking, you understand. I don't know.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

BTW, Goose, I meant to say earlier that I looked back at that comment Burchett offered to the News-Sentinel and discovered I had twice misstated (above) what it was he said:

He didn't say he "didn't want to bankrupt the school system," he said he "didn't want to bankrupt the county."

So you may be right that he's considering having the county absorb those excess costs expected at SKM, so that the school system's rent doesn't rise.

Hard to tell just yet what any of them are thinking...

Bbeanster's picture

Looked at from another

Looked at from another perspective, I doubt that the highest and best use for the AJ, a potentially lovely, historic building, is housing a bunch of bureaucrats. There's a lot to be said for putting it back on the tax rolls. And Bizgrrl is right -- the lunch preferences of said bureaucrats shouldn't figure into the equation.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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I'm sure nobody disputes it, Betty. I certainly don't.

All I'm saying is that if KCS should move out, McIntyre needs to position himself as an "evicted" party and he needs to stand firm on behalf of KCS that their rent not be raised at any new digs.

He can't appear to have in any way initiated the move and he can't appear to be a spendthrift--again.

With the repeat disclaimer that this is the case if rent at the AJ is as cheap as we think.

Bbeanster's picture

Tamara, I don't exactly get

Tamara, I don't exactly get it. Does someone think the supe's the decider in this?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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I don't know if anyone thinks McIntyre's "the decider," but did you not think, on reading the Friday article to first mention SKM, that it appeared he's "the initiator," rather than Burchett, I mean?

I did have that impression and it appears a few teachers posting on the article did, as well.

They were pretty irritated at just the mention of Central Office contemplating new digs and said their colleagues were, too.

Also, I got a single private message over there from a fellow who said his wife is a teacher. He saw the article as yet another indicator of McIntyre's excess.

Looked to me like the supe is on thin ice with those folks already.

I'll be chapped, too, if we should confirm that he's initiating the move or if he should again (on the heels of the Carter Elementary fiasco) cave to Burchett in allowing KCS rent to rise at any new location.

He's paid pretty highly to look out for the interests of the school system and he needs to start doing it.

But read through those KNS comments and see what you think.

Rachel's picture

But read through those KNS

But read through those KNS comments and see what you think.

Did you srsly just tell us to pay any attention - any attention at all - to what KNS commenters have to say?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Hey, they're people professing to be his employees--and they're not happy. They haven't been happy, either.

That's a problem for McIntyre.

Rachel's picture

If I were McIntyre I would

If I were McIntyre I would worry about employees and citizens who weren't happy with me. But I wouldn't take the KNS commenters for my source.

Those people basically hate everything and everybody.

AnonymousOne's picture

I had a professor for policy

I had a professor for policy analysis at UT who told the class "Always remember, you can learn anything from anybody."

Sometimes the writing may not be "on the wall."

It may be in the comments section.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Fair enough.

This citizen is unhappy that A-E and Karns High are sitting half-empty, other schools so small they're failing to receive state funding are yet in operation, ten or fifteen thousand kids are parked in rusty trailers on back parking lots (some for over thirty years), the supe pitched the delivery of STEM curricula from an all-new high school location as if it were a RttT mandate when it was not, the supe most recently advised his board to approve (for political reasons only) a $16 million construction project that might have been completed for $5 million, and he may be initiating a move to relocate the Central Office that may cause KCS to double its rent.

This citizen thinks he's out of his mind if he thinks that will play.

This citizen thinks he needs to wait to be removed from the AJ and he needs to stand firm as to the rent KCS can pay somewhere else.

Why is this difficult to understand?

AnonymousOne's picture

While not a huge fan of the

While not a huge fan of the STEM school concept, I am happy that the old L&N isn't falling into complete disrepair.

However, the superintendent seems to be playing two games:

One, an attempt to increase the number of stakeholders in support of the next budget by seemingly reaching out to teachers, bloggers, and others, and to present an image of more openness and accountablity.

Two, an attempt to withhold or stall the release of information that may reflect negatively on his performance and that of his administration.

That's a gambit.

If things go south, then those just recently invited into what they perceive as the decision making process may just wind up feeling used.

Justifiably so.

Pickens's picture

Have you ever thought about

Have you ever thought about running for School Board?

Up Goose Creek's picture

Comments

I've found interesting nuggets of info in the KNS comment section - but you do have to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The signal to noise ratio is much better if the article has nothing to do with crime or guns.

Rachel's picture

Or gay people. Or politics.

Or gay people. Or politics. Or religion. Or.....

Up Goose Creek's picture

Rent?

This comment from the KNS article leads me to believe the County would purchase the SKM:

“It’s a great old building,” he (Burchett) said. “But can we afford to retrofit it for the administration to move in?”

I don't understand the references to rents. I suspect this has to do with an arrangement with PBA - and there may be a good reason it is done that way. I wish someone would explain why office expense isn't just a line item on the budget.

As far as the valuation - this whole discussion is giving me flashbacks to the time I moved from Fourth & Gill to the Vestal Hills and the Credit Union had a hard time believing I was moving to a home that was $15,000 less than the other. I guess it is ingrained in our culture that one keeps moving somewhere more expensive - this was 1997 after all. But the new house had more functional utility (floored attic, bigger garden space, etc) and I had plenty of money left over for renovations.

Now I'm not an expert at commercial RE but it wouldn't surprise me if SKM + repairs < market value of AJ. It's also concievable that it will be more. It seems that you, Tamara, are putting a lot of energy into the assumption that SKM would be a major cash drain and we don't even have preliminary numbers yet.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Goose:

I haven't once suggested that SKM's purchase price plus cost of renovations there might exceed the AJ's selling price. I suspect the AJ is worth far more.

Nor have I argued that the AJ is not underutilized. I suspect the AJ is.

My primary question in this is whether KCS moving into SKM would result in Central Office rent going up.

And I ask it because it isn't the responsibility of KCS to personally rehab and occupy every historic building in town that we'd like to see rehabbed and occupied if the result is increased occupancy costs to KCS that might have been avoided.

Let Burchett and TDC work on that and let KCS focus on directing the largest possible volume of $$$ into the classroom and stretching capital dollars as far as they can.

AO:

I see the STEM school question a little differently. I strongly support KCS delivering that curriculum, I just regret that KCS was hell-bent on delivering it from an all-new, centrally located school (and presented that delivery mechanism to taxpayers as a mandate of RttT) before they adequately researched other delivery options that may or may not have been available to them.

I'm not saying they didn't need to open the L&N facility, but that I don't know whether they needed to open it--because they never researched the question one way or another.

If they opened it only to satisfy some notion that historic preservation/economic development/neighborhood revitalization was their task AND it caused them to spend more than was necessary, then they failed their own primary mission, namely to direct the largest possible volume of $$$ into the classroom and to stretch capital dollars as far as they can--in the interest of fulfilling the mission of the mayor's offfie and TDC.

And let's not let the Chamber off the hook. Let THEM find businesses to occupy these facilities we'd like to see occupied.

Pam Strickland's picture

I haven't had time to

I haven't had time to research the SKM situation, although I do think it has great potential and I think it is very likely that it could be rehabbed in such a way that it wouldn't be as costly as some think.

What I do what to say is that the L&N location has a tremendous plus going for it because of its proximity to the UT campus, something that many, if not all of other possible locations for the STEM academy lacked. I believe that the location of the L&N Academy is a tremendous decision for the students. I know at least two families with children there and the location alone is a fantastic bonus.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Pam - The L&N STEM Academy

Pam - The L&N STEM Academy location is centrally located deliberately to coordinate with the long-term goals of the school and its' partnerships. Is the facility perfect? Absolutely not. That said, every facility related obstacle the school encounters has been turned into an opportunity.

Bbeanster's picture

Hmmm. You're not addressing

Hmmm. You're not addressing me, I I have to say that I just don't get your point. The BOE "rent" is an artificial construct that has littler nothing to do with what's going on here.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Didn't mean to ignore you...

My understanding is that the Central Office's occupancy cost impacts their $$$ remaining for operations in the same manner as does the school system's debt service for having renovated or constructed schools.

I don't know whether or not an actual transfer of cash between checking accounts occurs, but the impact of recording the expense in any manner would appear to reduce the budget available for operating costs of other sorts, as far as I know?

I will say I'm surprised you would let off the hook so easily TDC and the Chamber, whose primary responsibility it is to rehab buildings of this sort, generally via recruiting businesses?

Again, I have no problem with a move of this sort so long as it doesn't negatively impact the KCS operating budget.

Up Goose Creek's picture

PBA

it isn't the responsibility of KCS to personally rehab and occupy every historic building in town that we'd like to see rehabbed

I think it is PBAs job to oversee rehab of the buildings. The county has sold Oakwood school to a private outfit and is considering selling the old Knoxville high school. Hyperbole, much?

I don't think the chamber would have to work very hard (or at all) to find a buyer for the AJ.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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I have nooo idea where our disconnect lies...

I think it's great that the county has sold Oakwood Elementary and it may be great, I don't know, if they sell old Knoxville High, too. Presumably, neither of those transactions has impacted or would impact the KCS operating budget in a negative manner.

It could be great if the county bought SKM, rehabed it, and moved KCS in, too, provided that transaction didn't negatively impact the KCS operating budget, either.

Right now, though, all we know is that it appears housing KCS at a rehabed SKM would cost more than double their current rent, and we don't know if the county would absorb or pass on to the school system the increased oost.

I've looked holes through my previous posts in which I attempted to say just this umpteen different ways and I simply do not see my error in logic you (plural "you," apparenty) seem to eee.

Think I'm content to look in a little later to see if possibly you (plural) have possibly helped me out, here...

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Pam and Cathy, I did not suggest that there is anything lacking in the location of the STEM academy.

I pointed out that KCS was not obligated under the terms of our RttT grant to create a unique location for a STEM academy, anywhere.

I pointed out that their only obligation per the grant app wss to develop a high school STEM curriculum and begin delivering it...some way.

I said that I cannot guess if the cost of creating a unique location for the academy anywhere wss an advisable cost because the school board spent too little time investigating and sharing with us their findings, one way or another.

To this day, then, I do not know how or why they reached the decision to create a unique STEM academy somewhere.

Pam, this consideration is important because the capital expenses incurred leapfrogged many other projects already budgeted in the school system's five-year plan, all of which would have served far more than 171 students.

Nap time. Later.

Pam Strickland's picture

And one of the key components

And one of the key components of the academy was to expose the students to faculty at UT. L&N was the perfect location for that. The location also does several other things by putting the students downtown. Unfortunately, I don't carry things around in my head like you do, Tamara, and I don't have time to go back and pull up specific information right now. However, I believe this fight has been fought and that most of us are happy with the decision. Energy would be better put into something else, such as the mess of the security system or what's going on in Nashville.

Bbeanster's picture

OK, I've been informed that

OK, I've been informed that restoring the building is too expensive a task for the county to take on.

Up Goose Creek's picture

Input

Thanks, Betty.

I'd been wondering, throughout this discussion, why none of the occupants of the AJ weighed in. Here or at the KNS. This troubled me as it affects their work environment.

bizgrrl's picture

It would appear, from KGIS,

It would appear, from KGIS, the old Andrew Johnson building has been owned by some sort of local government since at least 1991. It could be longer. KGIS does not always show older owners. Currently KGIS shows the building owned by Knox County since 2005 and the Public Building Authority before that.

One thing I am curious about is the number of jobs leaving downtown. What kind of mix should there be to sustain a viable downtown? Josh Flory, KNS, reported recently the Riverview Towers is experiencing "financial distress highlighting a softness in the local office market."

Back in November, the owner of the Medical Arts Building announced they were getting out of commercial office space and moving to apartments. Grace said the lack of demand for office space convinced him to make the change, saying Class A lease rates are "being compressed to such a low number that the difference between ... my rental rate and their rental rate wasn't that great anymore."

In the past couple of years a number of other businesses have moved offices out of downtown. Does it matter?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Pam, my comment concerning the L&N STEM Academy was not neccessarly to dispute where it was KCS placed it but to dispute the process that led to that decision.

What I said is that I thought the process was too hasty and superficial to have adequately vetted all alternatives.

That process, for example, afforded no consideration or debate whatsoever to the fact that on the west end of the county Karns High sits 59% occupied and on the east end of the county A-E sits with four times the square footage per student of any other high school in town.

Don't you think that process should have vetted these two underutilizd facilities and possible dual locatons for STEM magnets, so that little or no construction costs might have transpired, KCS might have confined its capital spending to just the $2 million available through their RttT grant, and the school system might have served more STEM students for less capital costs?

Consider, too, that primary STEM partner Pellissippi State Community College has its Main Campus virtually across the street from the underutlized Karns High and has its Magnolia Campus virtually across the street from the palatial A-E High.

Also, STEM partners Oak Ridge Associated Universities, ORNL, and Battelle are much closer to Karns High than they are to downtown.

Finally, consider that such a plan might also have afforded poor 'ol A-E more "magnetism" as a magnet, a problem that certainly stumped that Magnet School Task Force to have come back to the BoE with no recommendations.

Hear any discussion on any of these subjects? I didn't.

Always look closely to discern if KCS process is thorough, even after all hope is exhausted that it will be.

Rachel's picture

Pellissippi State Community

Pellissippi State Community College has its Main Campus virtually across the street from the underutlized Karns High and has its Magnolia Campus virtually across the street from the palatial A-E High.

No on both counts. Yes, Karns High and Pellissippi State are both NW. Yes, A-E and the Magnolia campus of PS are both east.

Across the street? Not even close.

bizgrrl's picture

Neither is UT "across the

Neither is UT "across the street" from the L&N STEM Academy. It's probably a mile to a close destination on UT campus and can be a mile and a half to two miles to other destinations on UT campus. A-E High is approx. 1.3 miles from Pellissippi Magnolia. Granted Karns HS is about 2.5 miles from Pellissippi Hardin Valley. Do the L&N STEM academy students walk to the UT campus for studies?

CathyMcCaughan's picture

The STEM students regularly

The STEM students regularly walk to the YMCA, Lawson McGee and Hodges Library. When the robotics team participated in the Veterans Day Parade, they walked to that as well.

bizgrrl's picture

Thanks, Cathy. I was hoping

Thanks, Cathy. I was hoping they walked regularly. The YMCA and Lawson McGhee are within a half mile. Gay Street just over a half mile. Hodges is the farthest at around 1 mile.

Why do they go to the Y and Lawson McGhee regularly?

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Students use the Y for

Students use the Y for creating and monitoring fitness routines. The libraries are for research and guest lectures. STEM students learn college success skills.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Biz, the L&N facility lacks both gym and library in-house.

This would not have been the csse had KCS chosen to locate it in one or more existing high schools.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

No KCS high school has the

No KCS high school has the gym equipment or research facilities that the Y and the UT library possess.

Rachel's picture

Look, it's an easy walk from

Look, it's an easy walk from the L&N to just about any academic building on campus (especially the STEM buildings, which are clustered on the Hill). For one thing, there are sidewalks. If I can do it, students can do it.

Try walking from Karns High to Pellissippi State. I dare you.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Look, it's an easy walk from the L&N to just about any academic building on campus (especially the STEM buildings, which are clustered on the Hill). For one thing, there are sidewalks. If I can do it, students can do it.

Try walking from Karns High to Pellissippi State. I dare you.

Rachel, I certainly agree that the short commute from KH to Pellissippi nevertheless isn't one to be walked.

However, you may not be aware that CTE students attending Powell High, which is not a "comprehensive high school," commute back-and-forth to Karns' Byington-Solway vo-tech center every day, twice a day, for at least the last 35 years (and that distance is further than this KH to Pellissippi trek would have been, too).

I know Gibbs High CTE students also do this, and possibly others?

Just another angle that might have been considered, then, in weighing the pluses and minuses of various delivery mechanisms for STEM.

bizgrrl's picture

Well, dang, Rachel. Since you

Well, dang, Rachel. Since you dared me I might have to do it, once. I didn't promote Karns/Pellissippi as an alternative to L&N/UT, just gave some facts as to distance between the different locations.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

I'm not altogether sure I can actually "promote" this A-E/Karns thing over the L&N, either, Biz. It's a done deal, anyway...

It's just that my mind has been turning on what KCS might have done differently in the past to have better protected us from "takeover" and on what we'll need to do differently in the future, too.

That's a whole lot to chew on, but I think part of the answer lies in more expansive, better promoted, neigborhood-based public school choice--delivered in a manner that stretches capital dollars.

Does that very last clause kinda bring us back to the original topic of this thread???

Rachel's picture

Please don't. I'd hate to be

Please don't. I'd hate to be responsible for your mangled body by the side of Oak Ridge Highway. Or for you getting lost in the Byington-Karns-Solway triangle. :)

Pam Strickland's picture

Karns isn't any where near

Karns isn't any where near the same proximity to ORNL as L&N is to UT. And while it would be nice to change the status of Austin-East, I don't think this is the project to do that, Tamara. The STEM academy is strictly for applicants. AE needs a different format, I believe. Also, while Pellissippi is a good school, the professors at UT are a cut above, I believe. That makes connection to UT better, I would think.

Yes, something should be done to take advantage of the space at Karns and AE, but this wasn't the project. And, sometimes, Tamara, projects do jump ahead of what's on the books. It happens. Get over it.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Yes, "it happens" over and over that expensive, grandiose plans are not properly vetted--which is precisely why Karns High, A-E, and a stand-alone STEM facility sit half empty today.

You do understand that the stand-alone STEM faciiity has failed for two years running to fill its slots available for local students?

And you do understand, with reference to this plan to now recruit STEM students from outside the county to occupy that stand-alone facility, that these "dollars to follow the student" McIntyre references are classroom dollars, not capital project dollars? That KCS has built a stand-alone facility that is now to be occupied in part by out-of-towners whose occupancy costs will not be reimbursed to our county?

Of course you didn't.

Bbeanster's picture

You do understand that the

You do understand that the stand-alone STEM faciiity has failed for two years running to fill its slots available for local students?

I was told by a school board member that there are more applicants than slots and that they've gone to a lottery system for admission.

Pam Strickland's picture

Thanks, Bean. I understand a

Thanks, Bean.

I understand a lot more than I'm given credit for on several levels.

bizgrrl's picture

Also, while Pellissippi is a

Also, while Pellissippi is a good school, the professors at UT are a cut above, I believe.

Hmmmm. I guess the students at the STEM academy get to meet "professors" at UT more than UT students themselves.

Pam Strickland's picture

Students at UT get to met

Students at UT get to meet professors. And, I'll let the snarky among you who have already been wrong about other matters deal with the STEM students and professors.

Meanwhile, I'm bowing out of this conversation because I, frankly, am over the misuse of quotation marks. It's a growing problem in public discourse and a huge pet peeve of mine.

Bye, y'all.

bizgrrl's picture

Hmmmm.

Hmmmm.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

My understanding is that the plan was to enroll 200 new students annually over four years to reach capacity at 800 students.

In its first year, 2011-2012, the STEM school enrolled 171 students per the 2012 State Report Card.

The 2013 State Report Card isn't yet out, of course, but Cathy, I think it was, cited an enrollment of 361 students this school year? Still under the 400 students projected?

In any event, the point is that the RttT grant supplied just $2 million in capital funding and McIntyre pushed to spend this $6 million on this particular stand-alone facility (that also entails $1 million in recurring costs), in spite of the fact that we had no obligation to build a stand-alone facility anywhere at all.

And now a portion of our capital dollars we didn't have to spend are to be allocated to cut-of-county students who will not be reimbursing Knox this expenditure.

And neither did KCS seize this possible opportunity to better utilize its existing facilities, even as it expanded its existing curriculum.

I suspect KCS could have made less grandiose, more efficient decisions that simultaneously addressed some of their problem areas.

And yes, several board members complained of feeling rushed into a decision. Prior news coverage of those complaints here.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

The numbers get adjusted

The numbers get adjusted because students realize the work load is more than they are willing to bear and transfer out very quickly. There are more applications than slots for the upcoming year. Next year is the school's first senior class. Those senior students will be job shadowing in STEM fields in the community surrounding the school.

The STEM Academy was always intended to be a hub school for neighboring counties. What you seem unwilling to accept is that this is a fully functioning school and not a program that can be dropped in another school. You seem to have zero idea how successful the school is and how many other teachers and schools are constantly visiting the school to collaborate, replicate and adapt the ideas. You should try seeing what is right in these schools that you like to use as examples that everything is bad and wrong. Tour STEM and ask about what the staff, teachers and students have accomplished in less than two years. Pay close attention to the positive recognition that the school is giving to Knoxville in academic and professional communities all across this country.

Bbeanster's picture

i have a young relative (and

i have a young relative (an 8th-grader) whose name is in the lottery. The numbers you give, which don't reflect the number of applicants for next school year (its third), indicate that the STEM school is pretty much on-track to hit its goal – don't they?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Like I said, I was relying on Cathy's number (I think it was) for this year's enrollment, at 361, and I have no info on apps for next year. You may be right, then.

I hope you are right. I've wondered, should this legislation pass to require all school facilities less the 70% occupied to scoot over for a charter school to move in, would the L&N STEM then need to recruit 400, not 200, for next school year?

Possibly not, since this pre-existing plan to beef up enrollment over time is in place, but I meant to ask Thomas Deakins about it when spoke with him yesterday. Forgot.

Bbeanster's picture

Like I said, I was relying on

Like I said, I was relying on Cathy's number (I think it was) for this year's enrollment, at 361, and I have no info on apps for next year. You may be right, then

But even without the increased applications for next year, if the school's goal was 400 students 4 years out. They are, in their second year, well on their way to exceeding it. I just don't get your rant, Tamara.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

It's 800 students four years out, not 400--for whom KCS appears to have unnecessarily incured $6 million in leasehold improvements, a lease payment, and $1 million annually in recurring expense.

My "rant" is focused on a long history of indefensible capital spending within KCS. Not just this board and super, but prior ones, too.

And the impetus for it, aside from concern for its impact to the operating budget, is conern that the TN Charter School Association will soon begin "capitalizing" on this inefficiency evidenced by half-empty school facilities scattered throughout the county. They're poised to move in.

I'm starting to wonder at the stubborn refusal of a few people around here to recognize it.

KCS is very vulnerable.

Bbeanster's picture

I've gotten behind on

I've gotten behind on this.
OK, I got the numbers wrong, but still -- it's a 4-year goal and they are very close to being on target in Year 2 with Year 3 enrollment applications up significantly. I still don't get your frothing consternation.

And surely you're kidding about the notion of using Karns High as a STEM school, considering its remote, almost inaccessible location (why the hell Knox County put any kind of school there, I don't know).

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

L&N STEM: We have an authoritative enrollment number of 171 or 85% of goal last year and a likely estimated enrollment number of 361 or 90% of goal this year. We have no number as to apps for next year.

So what happens next year if that pending legislation passes to allow the DoE to authorize charters and to mandate schools utilzed at less than 70% scoot over to house them?

I see the potential for an uninvited Great Hearts Academy in Karns, other uninvited charters of other sorts--possibly including STEM-oriented academies--in other underutilized schools, and a whole lot more "choice" generally to dampen interest in any cross-town commute to the L&N STEM.

Did I mention the potential for voucher legislation to also pass? More neighborhood-based "choice," less interest in cross-town commutes.

Karns High: "Remote, almost inaccessibe" to whom? Do we really need to ask Euclid which plan, opening one STEM school in the center of the county or two STEM schools in opposite quadrants of the county, provides the best proximity to the most students--to say nothing of better physical capacity?

You do understand that the student commuting from Gibbs to downtown lives closer to A-E and the student commuting from Farragut to downtown lives closer to Karns?

Furthermore, to the extent that central city students generally have a higher incidence of poverty than do suburban students and to the extent that the L&N STEM's rate of Economically Disadvantaged students was running 31.0% versus the county wide rate of 47.3% in 2012, it appears that the majority of L&N STEM students may not live in the central city and may instead live closer to A-E or Karns.

Not "frothing," but certainly cognizant that this isn't the time to respond with complacency to BoE inefficiency of any sort.

(Gotta run.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

I missed your post earlier, Cathy...

The STEM Academy was always intended to be a hub school for neighboring counties. What you seem unwilling to accept is that this is a fully functioning school and not a program that can be dropped in another school.

Yes, I'm aware that it was intended to be a "hub" WRT soliciting students from adjacent counties, but there was nothing in promises made in our grant app to preclude creating, say, two "hubs" at existing schools like A-E and Karns. And all our other magnet schools exist within larger schools.

Obviously, the $2 million in capital fundng afforded by the grant was inadequate to build a stand-alone school anywhere.

It was exclusivly McIntyre's idea to do that anyway.

I'm surprised you don't remember the pushback from board members on this point, particularly from Carson and Buttry? The KNS link I shared above reported on some of that (brief) debate.

Meanwhile, you do realize that my reservations are for the costly delivery mechanism, not for the STEM curriculum itself? After all, it should be the curriculum, to include its mentors in the business and academic arenas, that our neighbors seek to emulate.

Rachel's picture

Obviously, the $2 million in

Obviously, the $2 million in capital fundng afforded by the grant was inadequate to build a stand-alone school anywhere.

It was exclusivly McIntyre's idea to do that anyway.

I don't know how much capital $$ was spent on the STEM school. I do know it's misleading to say that the school system built a "stand alone school."

As you know, they converted an existing building. I'm sure the conversion wasn't cheap, but you make it sound like they built the thing from the ground up.

And I will submit that it was in the community's interest to have the L&N Station preserved and in use. Not everything has a value that can be computed in only $$ and cents.

And yes, some of the BOE board members expressed concerns. And then they voted unanimously to approve the STEM school at the L&N.

Look, I'm sure many of your criticisms of the school system are well-founded. And goodness knows you have done lots more digging into various issues that I have. The thing that bothers me, and I suspect a lot of other KVers, is that you always seem to be looking for the worst. You might mitigate the insistent criticism just a bit; I suspect it would improve your credibility.

bizgrrl's picture

It doesn't appear to me that

It doesn't appear to me that Tamara is looking for the worst in KCS. It appears to me she is trying to get help for those schools that need it desperately.

cafkia's picture

The L&N was very much in use

The L&N was very much in use prior to the STEM school. A number of law offices, CityView Magazine, Morris Creative Group, a catering/event business and other concerns occupied that building. It was not fully occupied but there were enough individual and diverse entities to reduce the chance of the building ever being totally empty without some sort of catastrophic failure. The L&N was a microcosm of what we have claimed to want for our greater urban area for years.

The building needed some work(my guess is that it still does) and a good restaurant tenant would have probably helped some of that come about but the building was being used daily by a variety of entities.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

crushed and missing floor tiles

The school's renovation included repair of the heavy damage done by the restaurant/bar that failed to survive in the L&N.

(link...)

fischbobber's picture

Self Fulfilling Prophesies

Don't you think your repeated efforts to undermine the STEM and IB programs becomes a self fulfilling prophesy if indeed you do succeed in your quest and these programs are dropped in favor of charter schools? Seems to me the position of a public school advocate would be one in favor of public options, not opposed. Just sayin.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Bob, my comments here on the STEM school have been focused on how KCS might have lowered its capital costs in order to have increased its budget for operations AND in order to increase physical capacity for students.

My earlier comments on the IB program were focused on how KCS might have better promoted its status as a magnet school to have ensured more families were aware of that option.

In both instances, then, my interest has been in affording the maximum possible number of KCS students these public school choices.

fischbobber's picture

Comments

Bob, my comments here on the STEM school have been focused on how KCS might have lowered its capital costs in order to have increased its budget for operations AND in order to increase physical capacity for students.

More to the point, your comments have been focused on 6 million being too high. You haven't actually presented an alternative that was cheaper or more cost effective.

My earlier comments on the IB program were focused on how KCS might have better promoted its status as a magnet school to have ensured more families were aware of that option.

Let's put things in a little context here. Two weeks before the application deadline you began a rant because you personally were uninformed about the magnet program. These are huge decisions for both the children and families involved. I know of no one that has committed to the magnet programs without a tremendous amount of research, preparation and soul-searching. Two weeks before deadline is no time to decide it's something your child "might want to do" and since he/she might be able to make the minimum qualifying scores to get into the lottery. I know parents whose children have attended three of the magnets and one who considered The communications program at Fulton. The social, academic and athletic challenges are formidable and throwing one's child into the mix on a last minute whim is not something that any informed proponent of education would advocate. Yet, that's what you were doing. The I.B. program is operating at beyond full capacity. Clearly the promotional campaign was beyond sufficient to fill the spots since the program has more applicants than openings. My concern is that I.B. is a highly demanding and competitive academic structure and depriving a qualified child who has spent years working on his application of the opportunity to pursue this course of study so we can include a significant portion of students who are clearly unprepared despite having academic talent is a waste of taxpayer money and students' talent. I can appreciate that there are smart slackers, but two weeks before an application deadline is an inappropriate time to throw them into the lottery of kids that will be drawn from to be accepted into the program.

At some point, folks are going to have to wake up to the fact that kids like achievement and attention. Yes, their areas of focus vary widely, but we're not going to improve our school district by destroying every innovative idea we try before it gets off the ground. And that's what you are doing whether by intent or accident.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

More to the point, your comments have been focused on 6 million being too high. You haven't actually presented an alternative that was cheaper or more cost effective.

Dunno how you can say that. Clearly, the A-E/Karns suggestion would have been cheaper and more cost effective.

What's debatable is whether it would have been a delivery mechanism that sacrificed quality of curriculum or limited mentor/mentee opps. And the first debate I've heard on that subject is taking place right here.

Two weeks before the application deadline you began a rant because you personally were uninformed about the magnet program. These are huge decisions for both the children and families involved. I know of no one that has committed to the magnet programs without a tremendous amount of research, preparation and soul-searching. Two weeks before deadline is no time to decide it's something your child "might want to do"

Dunno how you got the impression I was considering transferring my son, for just his senior year, into a program I'd just then realized he could attend?? Never said that, never intended that.

Again, my focus in that prior thread and in this one--since we veered off the topic of SKM--has been on better creating, expanding, and promoting neighborhood-based publc school choice.

How you came to conclude that I don't support that effort, I can't imagine.

Pam Strickland's picture

Tamara, that's lost in all

Tamara, that's lost in all your ranting. Completely lost. And as Rachel, Bean, and Bob have indicated in one form or another, your inability to find a single positive thing that the school district does isn't helping you at all.

I've long ago stopped trying to read through the reams of facts and figures that you throw out because it appears that the entire purpose that you have is to tear about the school system one fact at a time. I have no doubt that they do wrong, but I also believe that they have the ability to do some things right.

I have to run and may or may not have time to get back to this before tomorrow. However, I would urge you to consider the overall picture that your rhetoric is leaving.

Carry on.

AnonymousOne's picture

Is Roddy's $70K job to get

Is Roddy's $70K job to get students from surrounding counties enrolled in STEM?

Right now, the public is having a crisis of confidence with KCS, and any new spending intiatives, capital or otherwise are DOA.

Mike Cohen's picture

AJ

As a former schools PR guy, let me throw in a couple of thoughts.

First, the AJ is a horrible location. It's crappy space for a single organization, too vertical and chopped up. Secondly, it's a monument to management costs. It looks bigger than it is in terms of functionality, although the Board room and Superintendent's area are terrific. When I was at the schools I advocated for moving into the abandoned K-Mart that is now the Comcast headquarters.

But think abandoned big box. It can be had cheaply, it is generally easily accessible and it can be retrofitted to meet needs fairly cost effectively and it likely already has a lot of parking space, which can be expensive to create.

We should also realize that the AJ is not as hot a property for resale as everyone thinks. There are something like 8-10 parking spaces. That's it. Everybody else would need to go to the Kessell and it is a hilly, sometimes unpleasant walk from the Kessell to the AJ. The AJ is much, much nicer looking from the outside than the inside. Very chopped up.

That said, the Standard Knitting Mill, if it is economically do-able, still meets the criteria of re-use and ending some urban blight.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

I don't know how much capital $$ was spent on the STEM school. I do know it's misleading to say that the school system built a "stand alone school."

As you know, they converted an existing building. I'm sure the conversion wasn't cheap, but you make it sound like they built the thing from the ground up.

And I will submit that it was in the community's interest to have the L&N Station preserved and in use. Not everything has a value that can be computed in only $$ and cents.

Rachel, the L&N conversion cost $6 million, per the KNS link I offered, and also entailed a 20-year lease.

I did not allege that the project was "new constuction" but that it was a "stand-alone school" in terms of its not being housed within any larger, underutilized facility already in existence, like our other magnets are housed.

As with the possible rehab of SKM, the original topic of this thread, I readily acknowledge that it is "in the community's interest" to preserve and occupy the architectural treasure that is the L&N.

However, given that KCS debt service costs have for years been cutting into their operating budget, it is difficult for them to defend capital costs that might be avoided--particularly as the board seeks a substantial increase for its operating budget and as the TN Charter School Association circles like vultures to capitalize on KCS inefficiencies in facilities planning and utilization.

As to whose credibility is at risk over the coming months in this question of stewardship in capital spending, I take no glee in predicting that it is that of past and present BoE members that will suffer.

If I'm wrong, I'll submit to KV's publc flogging of me then.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Also, Rachel, WRT your perception that I “always seem to be looking for the worst,” I do want to point out that I cannot think of any instance in which I have afforded credence to the arguments of the reformers, except in the instance of their argument charging (and ultimately capitalizing on) our inefficiency in facility planning and utilization.

It is in this instance and this instance only that I’m afraid the reformers have found our Achilles Heel.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

I hear ya, Cathy.

I'm sure John C. Hodges and Lawson-McGhee libraries are superior to either the libraries at A-E and Karns or at Pellissippi campuses, too.

I just wish the BoE had taken longer to weigh all these particulars before making their decision and, more to the point, that I had greater confidence that their every capital spending decision over the years had been solid--the concern being that their any lapses might now cost us local control and ownership of our schools.

I can only repeat my worry that KCS is "vulnerable" in this regard...

Bbeanster's picture

The distance from Carter to

The distance from Carter to Karns, or from Gibbs to Karns or from S-Doyle to Karns or from A-E to Karns or Fulton to Karns or Central to Karns or Bearden to Karns or West to Karns is pretty freaking long. It's even a long way from Halls, and nowhere near as attractive to students -- even kids from Farragut, I bet.
Who wants to be stuck in an industrial park way out on the edge of Anderson County? And what student, serious or otherwise, would rather be at Pellissippi (which is nothing like walking distance from Karns, and is on dangerous roads meant for driving, not walking) than UT?

Talk about tanking enrollment .

I cannot believe you are serious.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

I've long ago stopped trying to read through the reams of facts and figures that you throw out because it appears that the entire purpose that you have is to tear about the school system one fact at a time.

Gawd forbid any of us should introduce facts into our arguments...

Pam, what I ask you to consider is that these recent "rants" you refer to are attempts on my part to see corrected some administrative deficiencies I'm worried will cost us local control of schools over the coming months and years.

This three-pronged pitchfork of a state-level charter authorizer, a mandate to co-locate charters in under-utilized schools, and a voucher program oughta be rousing us from our drowsy thought that the very limited menu of school choice options KCS offers is good enough.

That menu is limited WRT its ho-hum curricular offerings (i.e., the "traditional" magnets of the '90's), its finite number of seats (i.e., the IB program), and its requirement made of families choosing the options to trek outside--sometimes far outside--the familiarity of our own neighborhoods in order to avail ourselves of these schools (true of all of 'em).

The reality is that Huffman WILL move to repopulate Christenberry Elementary with a charter, some Great Hearts-type WILL conclude that Karns High is prime real estate for the demographic they seek, and urban and suburban families alike WILL ditch pubic schools for private ones.

Every last one of the students to take advantage of these three new laws will cease to have his education overseen by a truly public school administration, which oversight, for all my "rants," I much prefer and value.

You hear incessant complaining of the public school system on my part, but my intent is to sound an alarm to save it.

Wake up to the alarm.

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