Lee County voters will have a chance to make a huge difference with a $47,000,000.00 educational project on the November ballot. The proposed referendum calls for the construction of two new schools which would be the first since 1980 in Lee County.
Lee County School Board member, Debbie Jesse stated "We are also having problems with our furnaces and the windows are old and the air goes right through them." Also "Many of our roofs are leaking." School Board Chairman, Mike Kidwell, stated that "One history class was half flooded."
Facility assessment information released last year shows nine out of the ten public schools located in the county are in poor condition, with Lee High School being the only one that didn't fall into that category.
Another major issue is the overcrowding in local schools. Elk Knob Elementary school has two classes that share the same mobile unit located behind the school.
The School Board's proposed plan is to close some of the schools in order to bring the total number of county schools from eleven to seven. The proposed schools that would be affected are Elk Knob Elementary, Elydale, Flatwoods, Saint Charles, Pennington Middle and Jonesville Middle. Brian Austin, School System Superintendent says they would build two, bigger elementary schools in Pennington Gap and Jonesville as they are the ones that have the largest populations.
The cost of the new schools will be funded by the tax payers in the form of increased real estate tax increases ranging between six and fourteen cents. For example that would mean an increase of $140.00 for each $100,000.00 of assessed property. The plan would also increase personal property tax from seventy cents to one dollar and twenty-five cents. For each $10,000.00 of value it would cost $125.00
Lee County resident, Jim Heironimus said "It's gonna be hard, there's a lot of people like myself on fixed income." But others said the proposed school plan is a worthwhile investment.
For exact details of the proposal including which schools will be renovated, which closed and the breakdown of all three tax plans follow this link