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School board requirements may kill $1m plan

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By SABRINA GARRETT
The Wilson Post

Less than a month after the Wilson County Board of Education voted to enter into an agreement that would establish a career technical center in Lebanon it appears that the proposed facility may not be getting the green light after all.

The Tennessee Board of Regents began talks in 2012 of using $1 million of their own funds to transform the former Lebanon High School vocational facility into a state-of-the-art career technical center. Joint Economic & Community Development Board Executive Director G.C. Hixson told The Wilson Post that the $1 million total was just for the first year with additional funding in the future.

The Board of Education voted to move forward with the project during their May 6 board meeting, with the agreement that the Tennessee Board of Regents would meet certain stipulations set by school board members. Stipulations included the TBR being responsible for the students on the campus, undergoing a yearly satisfactory review by the BOE and meeting curriculum requirements.

At the meeting we voted to go forward with an agreement, pending they agree to two or three things. We are still working back and forth to see if they are willing to do that, school board Chairman Don Weathers said. If they are not willing to do that, in some form, then we will not go forward. We are in hopes that we can find a solution.

Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead, too, is in hopes that a solution can be found fast.

There are a lot of other cities that want to have what we are being offered, he said, aware that Williamson County, which has the lowest unemployment rate in the state of Tennessee, is also vying for a center.

Craighead traveled to Las Vegas, Nev., this week with County Mayor Randall Hutto, Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings, Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty and JECDBs Tammy Stokes for the annual RECon global retail real estate convention and noted that having a career technical center could help Wilson County attract more new businesses by offering skilled employees trained in various fields.

It is a big criteria when they are deciding whether to come here or not, he said. The school boards job is to educate, and by having a career technical center they would be giving students who are not planning to go to college an avenue and a promising future locally.

Craighead added that, We need to make this happen, because if we dont the citizens lose the children lose the opportunity to get training locally.

Hixson said that he does not foresee a better use for the vocational facility than a career technical center. I dont think there is a better use than giving our citizens job skills. It would be great for our high school students.

Jennings, who also serves as county attorney and represents the school board as well, was charged with managing the lease agreement. At press time, Jennings was still out-of-town and could not be reached for comment on the state of the agreement.

The county school board is to meet at 6 p.m., Monday, June 8.

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