The Knox County Board of Education will vote Wednesday to accept a $223,000 donation from Knoxville businessman and gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd for renovations to the South-Doyle High School library.
Knox County Schools Interim Superintendent Buzz Thomas referred to Boyd, who graduated from Doyle High School before it merged with South-Young High School, as one of the district’s “most loyal alumni” during the Board of Education’s work session Monday.
“Several years ago, Randy helped us put in a tutoring center at his alma mater, South-Doyle,” Thomas said. “Now, he is helping us build a prototype for the library of the digital age at South-Doyle.”
Thomas said Boyd will be at a board meeting in May to speak with board members about the library project.
Agenda materials show that the library will be called the “Boyd Media Center.” Knox County Schools will make a $317,883 investment in the library, in addition to the $223,000 donation from Boyd.
Boyd told WBIR 10News that he and his wife, Jenny, are "excited" to participate in the library project.
"It’s my alma mater. I care about the school, I care about the community," Boyd said. "Jenny and I have continued to support the school in a variety of ways. Buzz Thomas offered us the opportunity to help support a new and improved library and actually re-envision what libraries could be."
The South-Doyle library was closed in April 2016 after asbestos was discovered on the building's roof.
"This is just one of the greatest needs that the school had, and this was communicated to me by Buzz Thomas," Boyd said. "He’s a great friend and when he shared his vision and he shared the need it was something we wanted to step up and help."
Board member Amber Rountree said she is "thrilled" by the project.
"It's going to be the only library of its kind like this in the state," and one of only a few in the nation, she said. "I think it's going to be a game-changer. I'm excited."
Board member Jennifer Owen expressed concerns about naming a school facility after a person who is running for public office.
"While it’s not against our policy, I think it’s something we need to look at to give a facility the name of a person who is running for an office," she said.
Board member Lynn Fugate said she intends vote in favor of accepting the gift, and said naming the library after the donor is similar to many other projects the district has done.
"Since I got on the board in 2010, I wish we never named things after any living person, but that ship has sailed, that horse is out of the barn, whatever you want to say ... but we do, and I cannot think of any reason why we would not accept a generous gift from an alum and give them naming rights, as we have for a lot of other things," Fugate said.
The board will have to vote to accept the donation during their regular session meeting on Wednesday.