Johnson Architecture Inc. has been hired to design a new school to replace the existing Adrian Burnett Elementary School on Brown Gap Road in Halls. Also, the Board of Education voted to spend $225,000 for roughly 1.8 acres adjacent to the campus. Both contracts must be approved by county commission.
The property at 4511 Brown Gap Road lies to the west of the ABES campus. Owned by F. Lynn and Betty J. Yearwood, it contains a 2,000-square-feet home and two out buildings.
The contract with Johnson is for $893,000 plus reimbursable expenses.
Knox County will build the new school on the expanded campus, and then tear down the current building. Adrian Burnett, named for a former school board member, may be the only all-wood structure still used by Knox County Schools. It was designed for the open classroom concept with hallways leading through public spaces and classrooms accessible through other classrooms. The school has limited workspace for teachers, no auditorium and no gymnasium – only a playroom.
A replacement school has been needed for years, but the project always seemed to fall behind “more pressing” concerns.
BOE member Patti Bounds, Knox County Commissioner Charles Busler, KCS Superintendent Bob Thomas and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs are the folks who made it happen. (When it does.)
Religious release time policy change fails
Months-long debate on changes to the policy on school release time for religious study ended Dec. 11 as the Knox County school board failed to pass the proposed change. Four yes votes came from board chair Susan Horn, Patti Bounds, Terry Hill and Mike McMillan. The motion needed five votes to prevail.
Hill said the proposed policy complies with state law and the Board of Education cannot overturn or undo state law. “I support parental rights. If you don’t want to go (to release time), then don’t go.”
Tony Norman said the policy is not essential for religious programs to continue. “We don’t need to pass this policy.”
Jennifer Owen said, “I don’t understand why we’re even discussing this. Why are we taking instruction time from students?” The former music teacher said missing class in band or drama, for instance, hurts not only the absent students but those remaining. Also voting no were Evetty Satterfield, Virginia Babb and Kristi Kristy.