GUEST OPINION: County could have prevented school mess

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Former District 2 County Commissioner
As a former Roane County commissioner representing District 2, I attended a joint meeting of the school board and county commission.

I asked then-director-of-schools Toni McGriff why the board was intending to build a new school for Dyllis near Oliver Springs instead of building it at DeArmond Crossing for Walnut Hills Elementary and Dyllis.

She answered because the children of Dyllis were emotionally tied to Oliver Springs. However, after the meeting, a school board member told me it was because the Dyllis children did not want to go to school with Harriman Negroes.

I did not go public with this as it would have been his word against mine.
I realize now  that I should have.


As a county commissioner, I put on a strong push for redistricting schools, but the board saw fit not to do it. The school board parks its buses in Harriman High School parking lot and then picks up children in Webster Pike and takes them to Oliver Springs.

The same thing is happening in Emory Heights and Swan Pond with Kingston schools.

These are Harriman areas and the children should be in Harriman schools.


For several years, I advocated building a three-or-four-year high school for Kingston, Rockwood and Harriman. It would be across from Roane County Park, and if it was a four-year-school, it would have had a freshman wing on it.

It would be near Roane State Community College, where we could take advantage of their expertise and some of their resources.

Then we could turn the high schools into middle schools and the middle schools into elementary schools.

We should have taken all the TVA money and built the new high school for Kingston, Rockwood and Harriman and the school board would not be in the fix they are in now.

No county of 50,000 residents can operate five high schools without a humongous tax rate.

And as I have said before in this opinion piece, RACISM IS ALIVE IN ROANE COUNTY.