The County School Board on Thursday night passed a resolution saying it would not sell three schools at Signal Mountain if it chooses to break away and form its own school district.
Attorney Scott Bennett said the schools would still be needed and be operated for students on Waldens Ridge outside of the town of Signal Mountain. The schools are Signal Mountain Middle/High, Nolan Elementary and Thrasher Elementary.
David Testerman cast the only no vote, saying the board should not be discussing the issue unless Signal Mountain makes a move on the issue. The Signal Mountain Council is debating the issue after getting a report from a School Viability Committee.
Mr. Testerman said, "We're allowing ourselves to be distracted and to be dragged into this controversy, and I don't like it one bit."
Supt. Bryan Johnson said Signal Mountain students are some of the tops in the county, and he said the schools are part of a new system-wide effort to have the most-improved school system in the state.
He said, "My primary concern is that this is causing a distraction in the education experience."
Board member Kathy Lennon, of Signal Mountain, said, "I want them to stay with HCDE. I don't want to lose them. They benefit all of us."
She also said the issue is a distraction, "and it is getting worse and more divisive by the month."
Chairman Steve Highlander told Signal parents, "I hope you decide to stay."
He said there are a number of encouraging signs in county education since the arrival of Dr. Johnson and that the relationship of the board and County Commission is at a high.
In Shelby County where there was a similar move, the pull-away community had to build its own buildings. He said maintenance on the buildings "can be phenomenal."
He said, "My hope is that Signal Mountain will stay and will rise with the rest of the county schools."
Mr. Testerman voted against the resolution. Rhonda Thurman was not present for the vote.