Talks begin on fieldhouse for Karns High

Sandra ClarkOur Town Youth

Karns High School needs an all-sports athletic fieldhouse, and principal Brad Corum is asking Knox County for funding assistance.

“We need better facilities,” Corum told officials assembled Monday at the request of at-large Commissioner Justin Biggs. The meeting was posted to the media and others. Joining Corum and Biggs were Karns district representatives: Commissioner Brad Anders and school board chair Terry Hill.

Justin Biggs brings a “can-do” spirit to the project.

Biggs said he learned of the need at Karns when he served there as principal for a day. “I noticed (facility) differences (compared to other high schools). The weight room is on the balcony of the gym and the equipment is outdated. The school was built in 1981.”

Corum said he’s talked with Karns alumni and community businesses about the project. Funding support is there, but it’s hard to get momentum on a million-dollar-plus project. Nobody wants to be the first (or only) donor.

Terry Hill says the project is overdue.

Anders advised Biggs and Corum to invite Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs to tour the campus. Hill said the school system “will help any way we can” but can’t fund the project. County funding must come through the mayor and Knox County Commission.

Corum said Karns High serves 1,450 kids with 82 certified staff and 20 non-certified personnel. The school is growing by about 100 per year. Karns High offers 17 AP classes and hopes to add more next year. A list posted in the main hall celebrates more than a dozen scholars who scored 30 or more on the ACT exam.

Corum came as principal two and a half years ago after serving as principal at Karns Middle School. He’s been the principal for current juniors since they left fifth grade.

With a catch in his voice, he said, “I feel a real burden to give (Karns students) what others have.”

Brad Anders calls facilities equity “a burden we need to share.”

He said it’s difficult to recruit and retain coaches when facilities are not comparable. And Karns lost three athletes last year to other schools. “We need to make our athletic program more attractive,” he said. “I know this is a big ask, but a leader must speak up for his school. I’m a competitor.”

Corum lacks specifics on the size and cost of the facility. He envisions a multipurpose room for wrestling matches and indoor practices. He sees a conference room where athletes could watch film, offices for coaches and a top-class weight room. Biggs promised to look at other schools’ facilities and talk with the mayor.

And thus, it begins.

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