By Max Hrenda
Carter County Board of Education Member Jerry McMahan says he cares about education.
That’s why he wants to cut seven schools out of the county system.
On Tuesday evening, McMahan addressed the public at a meeting of Carter County Citizens in Action to discuss consolidating the district from 16 schools to nine.
“We have opportunities for Carter County to have the finest school system, if not in Tennessee, in the nation,” McMahan said. “There’s two parts to this thing: we want the best education for the students, plus we want the most economical savings for the taxpayers.”
McMahan chairs the school system’s Long Range Facilities Planning Commission, which spent more than 10 months researching the possibility of reducing the number of schools in the county.
In brief, the plan recommends reducing the number of elementary schools to five – Happy Valley, Hunter, Cloudland, Little Milligan, and Hampton – each teaching kindergarten through fifth grade.
The plan also recommends building a new, centrally located high school for all the county’s ninth- through 12th-grade students, while converting three existing high schools – Hampton, Happy Valley, and Unaka – into middle schools that would teach sixth- through eighth-graders.
Though McMahan pointed out that he did not speak for the school board as a whole, he said he had the highest confidence in the study’s results.