Monday night, the Roane County overwhelmingly voted against the long-discussed school consolidation project. Commissioners voted 11-2 with two abstentions to reject the approximately $63 million plan that would have consolidated Harriman, Kingston and Rockwood High Schools into one large central facility that would be built near Roane State Community College’s Harriman campus.
Since discussions began on the possibility of consolidating the three high schools and making renovations to Midway and Oliver Springs High Schools, which would remain open under the proposal, school officials have been fighting an uphill battle.
Last year, 78% of Roane County voters rejected a $50 wheel tax that would have paid for the project, and last night, the Roane County Commission in essence rejected the equivalent of a 23-cent property tax increase that would have funded the project.
Commissioners voted against delaying their vote until next month before they rejected the plan. School leaders say they will continue to look for ways to make the plan palatable for commissioners and citizens, but say that something needs to be done to the aging school buildings throughout the system.