In the face of aging buildings and a slight drop in student population, Roane County Schools wants to merge three high schools into one.
Members of the county's board of education voted 8-1 Wednesday night to consolidate Roane County, Rockwood and Harriman high schools at a new building, location to be determined.
The district's other two high schools -- Oliver Springs and Midway -- will remain, although OSHS will merge with the middle school next-door because that building is newer. The OSHS building will then be shuttered, according to the plan, which also calls for renovations to Midway High School.
This plan, however, is far from being a done deal.
Knoxville-based Lewis Group Architects will draw up the design, which must then go to Roane County Commission for approval.
"With these old high schools, even if you re-do these buildings, you still have old buildings that's just been re-done," Roane County BOE member Sam Cox said.
One site possibility for the new high school is somewhere in Roane State Community College, which already has a partnership with county schools.
Sharnon Robinett, however, is against the plan. She has a child in elementary, middle and high school, and they live between Kingston and Lenoir City.
If the new high school got built near RSCC, her children's commute would be even longer. She said they already ride the bus about 45 minutes each way.
Cox said the architect tells board members the process, from design to completion, could take two years.
"If you're a freshman at Harriman High School, the chances are you may graduate from Harriman High School by the time we get through," he said.
But an eighth grader at Cherokee Middle School, for example, just down the road from Roane County High School, "may be a junior or a senior in the new school, if it gets through county commission," he said. "It's an exciting time. We've done what we felt was best for the students of Roane County."
It's also unclear what would happen to high school teachers if three schools were consolidated into one.
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