LETTER: Expressing Views On A Middle School

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I have spent a lot of time reading and thinking about the opinions concerning a middle school. I would like at this time to add some food for thought. I realize that some, maybe several, will not agree with me, but we are all entitled to our own opinion. I certainly do not have all the answers, but so far I have read nothing to indicate that anyone else does either.

I have lived in this county all my life. Sure, it was a big change going from eighth grade to high school. I was excited but nervous about attending a big school but that is life, and one must learn to adjust to changes.

As far as problems with discipline in the high school, as I remember it, the majority of the problems began when parents stopped punishing their children. Then the teachers were not, and are not, allowed to discipline students either. Children are not born knowing how to act. Someone must teach them and when there is no punishment … there is no reason not to do as they wish as opposed to how they should be acting.

Again, as stated in some of the other comments, it is the parents’ responsibility to teach their children how to act respectfully and encourage them to learn not just let them grow. My parents always told me if I ever got a spanking at school, I could expect one when I got home. Guess what, I never was spanked at school. A middle school, nor any other school, will “fix” this problem.

Oh, for the most important point, when prayer and God were removed from our schools, we were just asking for problems.

Addressing the financial issue, it makes absolutely no sense to me with the current economic situation both locally and nationally to go further in debt millions of dollars when we already owe millions. I would like to have a bigger home but am ever so thankful for the 39-year-old home I have. When something needs repair, it is much cheaper to repair it than than to ditch it and buy another one that in a few years would also need repairs.

As a taxpayer for 39 years, I feel that taxpayers should have a vote on how our monies are spent. If the people for this middle school want it so badly, perhaps, they can fund it rather than expect everyone else to pay for it with taxes, taxes, taxes. We have several elderly property owners who are on fixed income. We, also, have people struggling to keep their homes and pay the property taxes, etc. It really is easy to spend someone else’s money, and common sense should come into play at this point.

Lastly, I audit students’ records for degree requirements at MTSU. I have found that the students from Cannon County are as well adjusted as students from other cities, counties, states and countries and earn much better grades than some of the other students from other areas. We have many students from our county who are honor students and for that we can be very proud.

I appreciate the opportunity to express my views and apologize for the length.

Deborah Phillips

Woodbury, TN

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March 09, 2011 at 1:22pm
enjoyed this article very much. you have very good statments and God help this entire county f they truly think we can keep on spending money that we do not have and more important can not get..with god's grace alot of people are even able to put food on their family table..why can we never be satisfied with what we got???? God bless our kids....
March 09, 2011 at 1:28pm
A good letter with some good points and ones that I can agree with, but not all.

I will say that taxpayers do have a say so in how their tax dollars are spent each time they go to the polls and vote for the Commissioners and other elected officials. That is their say. They choose then who represents them and spends that money.

Every time the elected officials vote on budgets and funding for the various projects and services that are provided within Cannon County they are spending other people's money and I think as a general rule they do use common sense when they make those decisions. I just don't think many people plan for anything beyond today.

The idea of holding on to something and getting your money's worth is frugal and sensible. However, there comes a point when it is no longer logical and you are simply doing it out of sentiment and tradition.

That statement applies to the idea of keeping six schools open at a cost of millions of dollars each year (using taxpayers money I might add) when changing the system would actually benefit ourselves in many different ways. Especially when you consider the cost vs. the enrollment of the school.

I have said before this was not a well run forum or a question that should have been posed to the people of Cannon County without more thought put into it prior. Land studies, transportation studies, building costs, current debt, and a financial breakdown of the current cost of each school should have all been completed before we got to the stage of an open ended question like "Do we need a Middle School?"

It wasn't done and it has caused nothing but grief and turmoil since day one. And the end result will be that nothing is accomplished, we will still be in debt, the School Board along with the County Commission will still be spending "everyone else's money" in future school budgets and we will still be sending our kids to schools built in the 1950's with absolutely no plan for any future growth or building projects.

I agree with the statement that "students from Cannon County are as well adjusted as students from other cities and counties".

I just wish the same held true for the adults and they would stop believing that as long as we ignore the problem then it doesn't exist!
March 09, 2011 at 1:55pm
Very well written article. ALL good points.
March 09, 2011 at 2:39pm
I agree with this letter. I think she made some very good points.
March 09, 2011 at 2:50pm
Amen to Ms Phillips!

So....increasing the taxes....where will that get us if the landowners cannot keep paying their taxes? Homes will be foreclosed on......lives changed....not to say it isn't needed eventually....just not right now! I would like to have a new car...and my old one kills me sometimes as far as repairs go....BUT.....I do not have the resources to buy a new car right now and believe that Cannon County landowners or at least the majority of are in the same position that they are not able to support this financially AT THIS TIME. Hold off a while.....give it some time and HOPEFULLY things will improve. OR......find a different approach so it is more fair to all concerned. NOT THE PROPERTY TAXES!!!!!! Property owners are already taking care of more than their share!
March 09, 2011 at 4:19pm
I agree with the saying "Why fix something that is not broken." Some in Cannon County want our county to be like the surrounding countied but need to realize that we are a smaller county and may not have the "MONEY" that the other counties have. What is wrong with keeping our school system the way it is. This should have been thought about before they spent money on building a new Woodbury Grammar. If it was thought of then maybe it would not have been such a big issue.

I am not totally opposed to a Middle School if it is taken the right way. Why turn Woodbury grammar into a middle school and bus those student elsewhere? The current High School needs to be updated in the terms of resources for the students. The labs, rooms, etc at the current High School would more than wnouth benefit a Middle School curriculum. What Cannon County needs if anything is a new High School!
March 09, 2011 at 11:35pm
Best letter concerning the Middle School I have read.
March 10, 2011 at 7:57am
I can't see how anyone could even think about having the MONEY for a NEW middle school,when the county commission can't even give the county employees a raise!!!!!!
March 10, 2011 at 8:16am
ems, first let me say I am fully aware that county employees are, themselves, Cannon County taxpayers.

Having said that, I think your blame is misplaced if county employees do not receive a raise. The county commission represents the taxpayers of the county. If a raise is not given, it is ultimately because the taxpayers have determined they do not want to provide more money to make it possible. As you can see by this letter and several of the comments posted to it, many taxpayers feel as though they are tapped out. I'm sure you do to. In a very real sense, many if not most of us are struggling to make ends meet. That has a cumulative effect on what the county government is able to afford.
March 10, 2011 at 9:00am
Just because we have no money to build a new High School or a Middle School does not mean we need to continue to sink millions of dollars into six schools.

Everyone is complaining about not having any money and none of you seem to realize one of the reasons we don't have the money to build is due to the amount of money we spend each year maintaining six schools when three of the six enroll less than 150 students K-8.

Right now, today, at this very minute we are $759,000 OVER BUDGET. That is because what we are doing doesn't work. It costs the TAXPAYERS too much money to keep the current system as it is.

Just because we cannot afford to build now, doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't change what we are currently doing and help plan for tomorrow.

All of you who are concerned about your tax dollars being raised if we build should also be concerned about your tax dollars being raised to off set a $759,000 budget shortfall. That is coming whether you like it or not. That money isn’t going to fall from the sky, it has to come from somewhere and where do you think that will be?

Building a Middle School or any school may be a dumb idea right now, but to continue sinking millions of dollars each year into a bottomless pit is not to bright either.

For all of you who say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", I am not sure how you come to the conclusion that something that is almost a million dollars in the hole is not broke?
March 10, 2011 at 12:00pm
I concur with most of Deborah's points. However the appeal made on behalf of the seniors on "fixed incomes" does not evoke much sympathy. Who here that works a salaried position is NOT on a fixed income?

Ironically most seniors get COLA S.S. increases every year, while most private and public employees have been without raises (or received pay cuts) for the last few years. It should be noted, getting no pay raise equates to a pay cut since health care, food and gas prices continue to skyrocket.

A "fixed income" is starting to sound pretty good now-a-days.
March 10, 2011 at 12:51pm
No seniors do not always get COLA S.S. increases every year. For the past 2 years they havent gotten this increase even though prices for groceries, gas, medicines and most necessities have increased. Cudo to Ms Phillips for her letter. I still think rezoning is an option that needs to be looked at. I know several families who live within just a few miles of either Short Mtn or East Side but are zoned for Woodbury Grammar. Woodbury Grammar is already bursting at the seams. There are more ways to solve some of these issues than just trying to push a middle school
March 10, 2011 at 1:19pm
Let's just say if and only if the middle school is voted down, and it is decided that the schools need to consolidate.

What schools are consolidated and removed?

What do we do with the empty buildings?

Can the current budget pay for the outstanding debts that will still be owed on additions that were made to them?

Not asking because I am for a middle school, I just feel we have beat this topic to death without answering these questions. Interested to see what is said here.
March 10, 2011 at 1:40pm
Neither have teachers.
March 10, 2011 at 1:41pm
efisk, say there is not a middle school and the grade structure remains at K-8 for the foreseeable future. How many K-8 schools does this county realistically need? My opinion is two, three at the most. Whatever it would take to get to that point, taxpayers would still save millions of dollars each year if it were done.
March 10, 2011 at 3:39pm
taxbits according to Barbara Parker no school is bursting at its seams because there is room for more students at each school according to the enrollment figures and capacity of each school.

She also explained this was the primary reason zoning is not an issue right now because of that as well. We were basically told that unless the schools were full then zoning would probably not be looked at.

efisk it is my understanding the budget does not go toward paying off debt; it is there to maintain what we currently need in services for each school.

The tax money used to pay off debt is the wheel tax that we all pay every year for our cars. The school budget to my knowledge is taken out of everyone's property taxes.

The State of Tennessee requires every school to keep a minimum of 2% or 3% of their total budget in reserves. At this time we are $759,000 into those reserves per the Cannon County School Board.

So to me, that means what we are doing is broke and needs to be fixed. If we can't build the next option has to be consolidation.

As far as which schools, that is up to the school board and Mrs. Parker to decide. I think a school's age, enrollment, size, proximity / location, total money spent maintaining that school, etc. should all be taken into consideration before that decision is made.

I just hope they are wise enough to make the necessary choices they face.
March 10, 2011 at 5:19pm
There is little doubt that the top students coming out of CCHS are competitive with those from the other schools in the area. These are probably students who had ACT scores in the mid to upper 20s and for the most part did not need to take any remedial courses. (Be interesting to look at their home life)

But there is more to CCHS then those few. If you will look at the data in the Department of Education you will see some disturbing numbers.

A cursory examination of the high schools in Rutherford County(6) along with Smith, Coffee, Warren, Dekalb, Upperman and Livingston–12 counties in all, show CCHS at the bottom in almost every statistic.

Graduation percentage of 72.7--the highest 84.5 and the next closest to CCHS - 86.1.
Only one other school had 2010 ACT score as low as CCHS (by .1)–the highest was 21.3.
NCLB–CCHS was a target school in 2010 and 2006. The 29% proficient in Math was far below all other schools and the 64% in Reading/Language was next to last among the 12 high schools.

A child’s education is generally as important as a parent wants it to be. All the good teachers in the world can only struggle when apathy is exhibited by parents. Cannon has their share of good teachers but maybe more than their fair share of parental apathy.

Ten of my clan have gone thru the system in Cannon and for the most part had teachers that challenged them and they were fortunate to have the same emphasis on quality education in their home life.

Cannon Countians should shoulder the burdens necessary to bring their schools off the bottom–more important as each year rolls by. Those going thru school, generation by generation, are the future.

As mentioned, mine was a brief look only at the numbers, I readily accept any corrections.

I might add that none of these numbers have any relationship to a lack of prayer in school. Those numbers suggest a good many students and teachers may have uttered, under their breath, a great many prayers. And the problems we see in these young people certainly has nothing to do with this lack of prayer in our schools but related almost exclusively to what one sees in our homes.

As pointed out: Let all hope that they are wise enough to take the necessary steps that will graduate a greater number of students who are not only well adjusted but can easily compete with all other high school grads.
March 10, 2011 at 7:10pm
Any word on the damage done to Woodland School today when the AC unit fell through the rotten roof that was built in the 1950's? Thank the good LORD that no students were hurt.

I guess the AC unit falling through the roof is just another example of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality that everyone wants to follow.

Or maybe it is an example of what we will continue to face if we continue believing that ignoring the problem means it really doesn't exist!
March 11, 2011 at 2:53am
When people say that they are on a fixed income it means they cannot physically make any more money. Young people, say on a salary, still have the ability to make more money by doing other jobs, ie; mowing grass bushhogging etc, etc.
March 11, 2011 at 6:16am
Correction on highest graduation rate. It was 94.5 and not 84.5 as noted above. Also the ACT for CCHS was 18.2, only one county lower with 18.1.
March 11, 2011 at 8:30am
Corey, I was attempting to strengthen what you said "I just hope they are wise enough to make the necessary choices they face" and one of those decisions they should be making is to address the future that awaits these students after graduation.

Cannon Countians should not be content to rank at or near the bottom in the area, not unless they want the future of a increasingly greater number of students to be at Walmart or McDs.

Why be complacent about a graduation rate in the 70s or ACT scores near the bottom or Math ratings below all or be disignated as a Target school.

The cost of buildings pale beside the desperate need to furnish an education that will afford a greater number of students the ability to compete for better jobs.

No longer are we in the past where you could grab a factory job in Warren or Rutherford or in Davidson Counties anytime you wanted.

The goal of the school board, in fact of any parent and even the tax payer, should be one that offers a student an increased ability to compete in today's marketplace.

If middle schools with teachers that are knowledgable in selected subjects and can challenge a greater number of students to excel, that should be one objective.

Increased taxes are small prices to pay for the future.

I won't mention the rating I saw where CCHS rated 246 out of the 295 high schools in the state. But then again, I will mention that and even though that has been just a few years ago, has anything changed during the past five or six years to get that ranking off the bottom?
March 11, 2011 at 10:08am
OK now I understand it better daily. That post made it a little clearer.

Thanks for the figures and we can agree that we should hope that the tough decisions, no matter how hard they may be, should be made for the betterment of the whole.

I don't believe that the parents are apathetic to their children's education; I just think everyone gets wrapped up in the everyday walks of life in jobs, trying to survive in this economy, etc. and education isn't as high on the priority list sometime. But, that is very understandable.

And I definitely don't agree that prayer doesn't affect the student or the outcome of everything we do. Prayer is proven to work in many different aspects of life. Why should education be any different?

Sorry if I sounded rude to your earlier post.
March 11, 2011 at 10:43am
Corey, I have disagreed with you on different aspects of this discussion (and will probably continue to), but I do whole heartedly agree with your statement about prayer being important in life as well as school.
March 11, 2011 at 12:24pm
SS recipients did not get a COLA increase for the last 2 years because inflation has not yet caught up to the massive 5.8 percent increase they received in 2008 (caused by the oil price spike that year).

To counter the illusion that they weren't getting their yearly entitlement increase Obama and Congress issued the $250 Social Security Stimulus Payment. This little perk set your grandkids back around 13 billion.

The term "fixed income" is defined as: Individuals who live on set amounts of periodically paid income and face the risk that inflation will erode their spending power.

Ironically this doesn't even apply to the people it's often used to refer to (SS recipients) since they're guaranteed COLA increases under law.
March 11, 2011 at 1:05pm
teacher I am glad we found something we can both agree upon.

I think the minute we started trying to push GOD away from everything we do in life in America from prayer in public, prayer in school, basic fundamentals of religion being taught, etc. is also the very minute that GOD decided to let us reap what we were sowing.

I am not saying we should teach a specific religion in school at all. That is the choice of the parent in my opinion on how to raise their child religiously or not.

But, basic knowledge of good vs. evil, right and wrong, doing unto others, etc. should have a place in our schools and that can be done without ever specifying a particular sect or specific denomination.

That's my two cents worth in case anyone was dying to know how I felt about it! HA!
March 17, 2011 at 2:48am
Corey, I presume since you hammer the six elementary schools so badly that you want all but woodbury elementary shut down and every student in the county be indoctrinated as "good" Cannon Countians i.e." Woodbury is the only place that MATTERS in this county." Such is not now nor will it ever be the case. I've apologized to my children for forcing them to go to Barney Bragg Memorial high school repeatedly and outlined the lies that were told before that institution was erected. Forcing preadolescent students to ride the bus for an hour and a half will do immesurable harm to their learning skills. Cramming every child into a single elementary will mean no one gets any kind of quality education.
March 17, 2011 at 2:51pm
Well wichita you would be wrong in your presumption about what I think.

I have stated before that if Woodbury Grammar is chosen as the Middle School and my daughter has to be consolidated in another school because that is what is best for the whole, then I am all for it.

I am more than willing to change my schedule to benefit the process and I would hope you would be willing to as well. Doing nothing is not an option anymore and ignoring the problems we face does not make them go away. It just passes it along to the next group to deal with because we are too lazy and set in our sentimental traditions to do it ourselves!

I have not suggested we consolidate with any preconceived ideas on which school should be kept in service or which should be closed. I have said repeatedly that the decision to do that lies with the School Board and not me, not you and not anyone else.

Apparently you are just now joining this forum because you are also suggesting the kids will be riding the bus longer because of consolidation and that would be false also. Tennessee State Law only allows for students to be on the bus specific time lengths each day. No county can get around that. Consolidation will not change it and will not affect it.

From now on, don't presume to know anything without:

a. reading all of the prior comments
b. asking me.

I have no problems letting you or anyone else know if you ask.
March 18, 2011 at 1:56pm
Are you assuming that consolidation will create some time of magic time warp to shorten the bus rides? While most of the old graveled hill roads I used to travel are now paved, that doesn't shorten the time required by a significant enough percentage. I read EVERY comment before I opted to express my opinion. And where would the Woodbury Grammar students be educated if your preference were exercised? West Side?
I know full well you have no problem expressing your opinion, you take more space on this website than the totality of the reporters for the paper. It's a moot point for me personally, my children are grown and have each been married and out of the house for over five years. To date I have no grandchildren nor does it seem likely that I will live to see any. I know that fact renders my opinion re: a middle school as worthless to you as does the fact I live on the north side of the "ninth wonder of the world bridge to nowhere". But standing by and watching any of our elementary schools be shut down in favor of yet another unaffordable white elephant is unacceptable to me.
March 18, 2011 at 2:21pm
Three elementary schools with enrollments of around 100 are not needed. It is unfair to taxpayers to keep them open, and to students who would benefit from having the money re-directed to other resources. Consolidating the three into one would not pose a burden of any substance to students who do or would attend those schools.
March 19, 2011 at 3:23am
I debated on responding to your last comment wichita just due to the sarcasm and disgust I feel toward re-stating what I have already said numerous times. Also because of your statement that you read EVERY comment before you express your opinion, which can not be true or I would not have to say the same thing over again.

You are right in that I do take up a lot of space commenting on articles on this site and it is primarily due to my attempts at trying to insert some sort of realism into the fantasy world people like yourself seem to be determined to live in.

EVERYTHING I have written concerning the question of building, not building, consolidation or the financial aspects of the schools in Cannon County has been because I can see beyond today and know that if we don't change what we currently have we will be doomed to failure on a catastrophic level.

The day our Lady Lionettes played McMinn County in the state tournament an A/C Unit fell through the roof of Woodland Grammar School. If you or anyone else who reads this cannot understand the significance of what we face in the future due to schools built in the 1950's then I have extreme pity for you and them. The safety of our children alone should make you open your eyes to what we face if we continue to do nothing.

Once again, which schools to close or remain open is one that the SCHOOL BOARD will have to decide upon. They will also have to decide which schools will increase due to consolidation, which will determine where my daughter attends. That is about the 5th time I have said that, so pay attention.

The bus issue is a moot point also. The length of time the kids spend each day is MANDATED by the STATE OF TENNESSEE. It cannot increase any more than what it is today. It will just require more buses if consolidation of schools comes to pass.

And lastly, I don't find your opinion as worthless. I just find it one, like so many others, as being wrapped up in sentiment, tradition and no desire to look beyond today and see what is best for tomorrow. It is your opinion and one you are entitled to, however wrong it may be in my mind.

I always find it amusing when people say "I don't really care, but let me tell you my opinion". Or "it doesn't bother me, but let me tell you why I don't like it even though I am not affected by it".

I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to start preaching about all of this. I make no apologies to anyone about my opinion. I have a daughter at WGS who will be affected by this tremendously. I have a son in High School and one at MTSU with hopes of becoming a teacher some day. I do care because I am highly vested in how all of this turns out. Every opinion I make on this site is because of my desire to see them have a better life, a better education, a better place to live and maybe someday contribute in their own way to making Cannon County better. And all of those desires by me for them are affected by the people determined to ignore the problems we face because of tradition.

The only "white elephant" I see in the room is the one that is too blind to see the obvious.
March 20, 2011 at 2:33am
Save your pity for the teenagers who walk daily among the thieves and extortionists infesting Barney Bragg Memorial Cesspit. They certainly have mine. Wasting a million plus dollars on building a new concentration camp and funneling (maybe) 150 seventh and eighth graders into it will only create a new generation of victims earlier than the present time. Don't tell me they aren't there, I'm the man who had to shell out the co-pays to the ER and who involuntarily funded the precious darlings via my children's lunch money. I didn't find out why my kids wanted cash instead of checks made out to the school until after they graduated. The only way THIS county could raise THAT kind of money is to either tax the meth cookers or sell them into slavery. The only things I can see in the future are arthritis and funerals. The catastrophe is already upon us. It's called "living in the REAL world." Doing nothing is not only an option, when there is less than nothing to work with, as is the case, it's the only option.
March 20, 2011 at 3:53pm
I have absolutely no idea what that post meant at all wichita.

It was simply one long sentence that ran together and had no logic or bearing on anything to do with building a school.

You might want to check and see about getting help for the anger problems because it seems you have a lot of pent up frustration you need to let out.

Although, according to you none of this really matter to you because you have no kids in school and no grandkids on the way.
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