Dear Readers: Blount Today to close
I have inquired regarding the admission process for HOPE Academy STEM charter school. Free and reduced lunch children have first priority to attend. After that, any resident of Blount County school system may attend (if the application is going to be through Blount County now). Then if any openings are left, any child from any area in the state may apply through a lottery which will be handled through a 3rd party who is not affiliated in any way to HOPE Academy in order to ensure that there is no way to "pick and choose" who gets in. It is nice to have a choice within the educational system and also nice to know that all children, no matter their soci-economic background will have access to this type of learning environment.
It is sad the animosity & hatred of Fort Craig has been allowed to continue in this community for 16 years (seriously?). It does sound like there were hurt feelings in the beginning and it was handled poorly (sound familiar?) when it was opened. To allow it to go on this long has been a failure of leadership that trickles down from the administrators, to the teachers, down to the parents. It could have been stopped a long time ago and the community would have been better for it. There are misleading facts about Fort Craig such as the student/teacher ratio (it is the same except 4th grade), and the cost per student is not entirely accurate. Has ANYONE asked about the 35 special needs children that attend FC? I understand the other 3 schools do not have many children with special needs as FC does. I'm NOT saying that the teachers will not be as loving,or capable but it will be a learning process. The director and board made it appear closing FC is a budget issue, but it was an opportunity to close it, or they would have looked at even 1 other option. Maybe closing Fort Craig IS the best thing for our entire school system? However, we were not given the chance to find out. The director and board have alarmed the community by saying city council will raise taxes "this much" if they don't close it, and "only this much" if they do close it. City leaders have told me either way they are not raising taxes(I agree). I have been heard they do have the money to open Coulter Grove and have $2.4 million in a "rainy day" fund?? I hope they do have the money to open it because if not, what else will they decide to cut in order to open it. Did anyone ever question WHEN & WHERE this decision was first brought up? Hmmm....I guess that does not matter to the public, does it? They will not address the real issue which is the overcrowding at MHS (it is appalling what conditions they are dealing with!)..Would it mess with football too much? Why have Alcoa schools gone to a year round system, & Oak Ridge school board is researching if they are going to move to a year round calendar (they have 2 schools that are year round, "different"- gasp!) Knox County is getting ready to open a charter school & a new STEM academy (again, gasp!). Why can't our director & board do some research & come up with some innovative ideas they could implement in ALL of our wonderful schools to move forward instead of backward. Does the City of Maryville not want to be leaders in education in the future? The other surrounding cities sure do appear that they are thinking progressively. I am simply asking all these questions and I do not understand why anyone else would not be asking them as well. Look at the bigger picture. It is so much more of an issue than closing a school.
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