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Dear Readers: Blount Today to close
Like many families, we searched the Knoxville metro area for the best schools and moved to Maryville specifically to attend Fort Craig. We were sorely disappointed when the lottery did not favor us. I was not impressed at all with the school for which we were zoned. But fortunately a spot opened up at Fort Craig and we were elated! My kids have thrived at Fort Craig and actually look forward to going to school! That was one of the goals that founding principal Laryy Holt desired. Despite what Stephanie Thompson says, the Fort Craig learning culture is different enough to make, well..., a difference.
When my 4th grade daughter started Kindergarten at Fort Craig, in the very first week another parent told me she hoped we would get to "finish out" at Fort Craig. I asked her what she meant. She said that Stephanie Thompson was being groomed to take over the top spot when then schools director Mike Dalton retired. When he did retire, there would be a sham search for a new director but Thompson would be unaminously selected. She would then move to shut Fort Craig down ASAP. Why? She apparently didn't like it from the beginning. I thought this other parent was nutty as a fruitcake at the time but her predictions are turning out to be remarkably spot on!
The visionary triad of Gary Hensley, Mike Dalton, and former school boards started Maryville City Schools on a path to excellence. The new triumvirate of Greg McClain, Stephanie Thompson and the majority of the current board could more aptly be called the "village idiots." They have already started Maryville City Schools down the slippery slope of mediocrity.
Since I am being critical, I would be remiss if I did not offer a proposed solution.
Since John Sevier has the highest percentage of free/reduced school lunch students, and since these kids are at increased risk for academic difficulties, I would propose a combination neighborhood school/school of choice. Convert the entire school to the Fort Craig program, allot a percentage of enrollment to zoned students and another percentage to students "city wide" as a "school of choice" like Fort Craig is now. Advantages: more students (especially at risk) could benefit from the Fort Craig culture, property values in the John Sevier district go up, and Maryville City Schools get their new intermediate school.
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