The Problem with the Gibbs Middle Debate is Hair Color

Sandra Clark, over at the News Sentinel owned weekly shopping circulars wrapper last week published a report about the At Large Knox County Commissioners Ed Brantley and Bob Thomas Henry’s Deli visit. Obviously, the discussion among the politicos that attended centered around Gibbs Middle.

The difference between the advocates for a Gibbs Middle and Hardin Valley Middle is in hair color . The Hardin Valley advocates are parents of elementary school age children. ie. the future attendees of a Hardin Valley Middle. Based on Clark’s report the people driving a Gibbs Middle are people without school age children. Making Gibbs Middle a me too, want and not a real need.

The first quote is from Steve Hunley, a Clark’ competitor, he publishes a weekly newsprint publication. Hunley served on Knox County School Board from 1996-2000, in those four years he failed to replace a temporary Gibbs Elementary or to build a Gibbs Middle School. His successor Jim Williams was able to deliver a permanent Gibbs Elementary.

“They’re all picking up their kids at Holston,” quipped Steve Hunley. The former school board member has made it his life’s work to get a middle school at Gibbs.

Another proponent Pam Clevenger spoke and is referring to her ‘granddaughter after she sent her own daughter to Holston in the 90’s. “ Her comment could be construed to be isolationist. That (zoning) was done for desegregation and that law has changed. … I just didn’t want my kids to go to an inner-city school.”

A former 2007 Black Wednesday Knox County Commissioner asked a question about the schools budget, which would cause anybody ask what did he understand about the FY 2008 budget he voted in June of 2007. His question was a salary question. The construction of a Gibbs Middle School is from the Capital budget, not the Operational budget.

Jack Huddleston raised questions about a proposed four percent raise for teachers. “Why doesn’t the state fund that?”

Knox County Finance Director Chris Caldwell said the state will provide about $4.4 million toward the $10 million required to raise all teachers. That’s because Knox County Schools has substantially more positions than required by state regulations.

The the Gibbs area School Board Member and Chair of the Board Mike McMillan agreed with Caldwell. McMillan has no children. “They send (money for) 4 percent based on the number of teachers the state thinks we should have.”

Bob Barker (a City of Knoxville Public Services Retiree) asked, “How long can we kick this can down the road?

Then he answered his own question: “They come up with the money to build what they want to … and ignore us out here.”

Gibbs Democrat Organizer Gregg Lonas  (whom I believe his child has graduated from high school) advocated defunding an inner city school “Pull the kids back who are now being home-schooled and defund Vine Middle School. Use those principals and teachers to operate a Gibbs Middle School.”

So, the whole issue of a Gibbs Middle doesn’t have any current parents or Knox County Schools stakeholders advocating for a new facility.  It stands to reason to me that Dr. James P. McIntyre, Jr. and the school staff see Gibbs Middle as a political football issue organized by a former one term School Board Member and a group of his cronies.


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