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By Meg Dickens Staff Writer, and Tamas Mondovics Editor
Sarah Worlock is an ambitious little girl. This 11-year-old loves softball, dancing, and cheerleading. She is an avid reader who dreams of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Worlock is one of several children who can no longer attend Shady Valley Elementary due to the Johnson County School Board’s decision.
The School Board passed a vote 3-2 to downsize Shady Valley Elementary School from a PreK-6 establishment to a K-5 establishment for the 2019-2020, school year during its June 13 meeting.
Concerned citizens from around the area gathered at Shady Valley Elementary on July 26 to discuss this decision and petition for a re-vote. This conflict is still in full swing.
Sarah, her sister Katie, and her brother Cole will no longer attend school in Johnson County. Sarah will attend Damascus Middle School while her older siblings will attend Abingdon High. According to mother and retired Major Ashley Worlock, Sarah’s new school is closer than the Board’s suggestion, has smaller class sizes averaging 17 students per class, and does not require the family to cross Roan Mountain.
“It’s a relief knowing that she is not getting on that bus every day,” Worlock explained. “All of the parents are concerned with that bus ride.”
The Worlocks considered Carter County, Washington County, Sullivan County, and home schooling before settling on Washington County. School size, test scores, and school transparency were the deciding factors. Sarah’s new school is farther away than Shady but much closer than Mountain City Elementary, which is paramount in case of an emergency.
“She’s been in the same class since the third grade,” said Worlock. “It takes time for children to adjust, and they don’t take that into consideration. Sarah prefers Shady, but this is the best option available. I would consider sending Sarah back to Shady in a heartbeat if they repeal this decision.”
Ashley Worlock is still challenging the School Board’s decision.
In a recent email representing members of the Shady Valley community Worlock reached out to School Board Chairman Howard Carlton, who in reply rejected Worlock’s request to call a meeting before the school year commences.
In her email, Worlock wrote,
Last week, July 25 2019, Shady Valley Residents held a town meeting, we regret you could not attend. It was during this meeting that the citizens of Shady Valley voiced their concerns with the recent School Board decision to close the 6th and PreK grades at Shady Valley Elementary. The citizens of Shady Valley respectfully request that you initiate a special meeting of the School Board to be held in Shady Valley in order to reconsider and re-vote on the decision to close the 6th and PreK grades at Shady Valley Elementary. The Shady Valley residents would like the opportunity to present all cost of this decision on the community and the ramifications this decision will set in motion.
The citizens of Shady Valley and many residents in Johnson County at large are concerned that the School Board violated several of Johnson County’s School Board Policies: i.e. Role of the Board of Education – 1.101 and Board – Community Relations 1.500.
The meeting in which a vote was taken did not have any indication of removing any grades from Shady Valley Elementary in the Agenda items. This too is a violation of state policy.
The majority of Shady Valley residents believe, as the Chairman, it is your duty and responsibility to the residents of Shady Valley and the County to call such a special meeting to make sure all the facts are considered when making such a serious decision as the Board did on June 17 2019. Due to the urgency and timeliness, your action is requested immediately.
Very Respectfully, Ashley Worlock”
Leaving out introductory or closing pleasantries, Carlton wasted no time with his two-sentence reply of,
“I am declining your request. The Board will not reconsider their decision.”
Sent from iPhone
Worlock has a meeting with the State Department about Title I funding this week and is keeping touch with Shady officials.