Two years ago, Ringgold school board was making plans to build a new $42 million high school and convert the existing high school into a middle school. The plans were stopped when voters supported every school board candidate running on the platform of using what we have. This created a new majority on the board. However, before the former majority lost its power, it was able to force the closing of two community schools.
In January 2012, the new board set about reviewing the budget in an effort to determine the true financial state of the district. They needed to address cuts in state funding, an ongoing series of problems with the construction of the newly renovated former middle school and huge unfunded liabilities that the district will need to find additional revenue to meet. These are not the only concerns Ringgold has to face. Because of recent court decisions affecting every homeowner, renter and business in this district, countywide property reassessments are not an if anymore, but a when.
In keeping with their promise to use what we have, the new board voted last summer to have architects determine the cost of renovating the Donora and Monongahela elementary centers. There was majority vote to start the process, but unfortunately, before anything could get started, school board member Bill Ellis passed away. Then, suddenly, a few of the current directors forgot what they had just supported and caused a split in the school board. It could no longer come to an agreement on anything and refused to even consider letting voters decide.
Even though the new board majority consists of two members who were appointed, they still did not think the question should be determined by the taxpayers and voters of Ringgold. They overturned the previous decision to use the community schools and want to start the building process again.
However, this process is not a fast one. They too must follow state protocol. Before they can move forward on any plans there will be another election that will give the residents and taxpayers of Ringgold a chance to decide whether we really want another building.
It is not over; we can still save our community schools.
Save our community schools