The Wilson County Board of Education held a special called board meeting on Friday, March 20, 2020, to address the future of the schools that were damaged in the tornado earlier this month. The meeting was limited to public viewing through livestreaming to ensure the health and safety of the public and school officials.
The board met to discuss a limited agenda that was specifically about the district’s tornado recovery efforts. Two Wilson County Schools, Stoner Creek Elementary and West Wilson Middle, were destroyed when an EF-3 tornado struck much of the county.
Director of Wilson County Schools Donna Wright said the meeting was called due to the urgency of moving forward with plans to rebuild the schools.
“School districts are not equipped to more or less navigate through an area when you’re dealing with insurance companies,” said Wright.
The meeting was to seek board approval for the engagement of professionals and contractors to work through repairs and replacement of the damaged facilities as needed moving forward, said WCS Public Information Office Bart Barker.
In order to move forward with rebuilding, WCS also had to engage with the design team that it has been working with for years while constructing new schools in the district. The designs used in newer schools, such as Springdale Elementary and Gladeville Middle, are considered the prototypes for the district.
The schools will be rebuilt at their existing locations, and the district hopes to begin construction this summer.
School Board Member Wayne McNeese asked WCS Deputy Director Mickey Hall why the district couldn’t just use the 54 acres behind the Jackson Hills subdivision by Mt. Juliet High School to build a middle school and elementary school. Hall said that it would take two to three years longer to get students back in the schools.
“If we get the schools out of the ground in June, we have been told it will take 14 months,” said Hall.
After a tumultuous month of tornadoes and the COVID-19 outbreak, state lawmakers approved waiving TNReady testing as well as the requirement of 180 classroom instruction days for the current school year. By waiving the requirement, the school year will not have to be extended into the summer.
On Tuesday, Gov. Lee recommended that all school districts remain closed through April 24 amid continuous widespread COVID-19 concerns. A statement released Tuesday afternoon said that Wilson County Schools will comply with the governor’s request.