Watch now: College students, mother and father urge Sullivan college board maintain Innovation Academy open | Training


BLOUNTVILLE — College students and fogeys Thursday night time got here to the protection of Innovation Academy, a science, expertise, engineering and math center college they’ve heard could also be closed for finances causes.

5 present or former college students of IA and 5 mother and father of present and/or former IA college students gave impassioned pleas to the seven-member Sullivan County Board of Training on the finish of its common Thursday night time assembly.

They urged the board not shut the college, though such a plan has not been publicly mentioned. They mentioned doing so can be a giant mistake due to IA’s excessive check scores and low pupil-teacher ratios.

One guardian known as for a three-year board promise to maintain the college open.


Board Chairman Randall Jones mentioned a bunch of involved mother and father and college students approached him Wednesday night time at a group open home at Sullivan Central Center, the previous Central Excessive the place IA is housed.

“I love the scholars who stood up and spoke,” Jones mentioned through the assembly.

“It began as rumors,” Jones mentioned after the assembly. “No choices have been made.” Nonetheless, the board is having a 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. retreat Monday to speak about funds and issues affecting it, together with enrollment. IA has been talked about for closing a number of instances however to this point has been spared the ax.

Nonetheless, a number of college students and fogeys mentioned they’ve heard IA could also be on the chopping block as a result of its enrollment has fallen to 76 college students. They mentioned the college has drawn college students — and Tennessee funding {dollars} that observe college students to public faculties — from throughout the Tri-Cities and would draw extra college students if it was promoted because it was earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Each single scholar is household to me, as are our academics,” sixth-grader Sara Grace Osborne, the primary of 5 college students who addressed the board, mentioned throughout public touch upon non-agenda gadgets on the finish of the assembly.

Sara mentioned the hands-on studying fashion serves college students effectively, as do collaborative efforts on the college, which traces it roots again to an experimental program began in 2012 between Kingsport Metropolis Colleges and Sullivan County Colleges and was first positioned within the former Brookside Elementary College in Bloomingdale.

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Sara additionally mentioned her house college to which she doubtless would return is Boones Creek Center in Washington County, though some mother and father mentioned they and different mother and father would contemplate transferring their kids to Kingsport’s Sevier Center or College College at East Tennessee State College in Johnson Metropolis,.

KCS quickly left IA, which in 2014 moved to be housed at Holston Center close to Tri-Cities Airport, and when Holston moved again in August to the previous Sullivan Central Excessive, the present Central Center, IA went with it.

Cynthia Robbins, who has two seventh-grade daughters at IA, mentioned they thrive. One has Asperger syndrome and the opposite consideration deficit hyperactivity dysfunction. “She has discovered her herd,” Robbins mentioned of the daughter with Asperger syndrome, whereas she mentioned the opposite hadn’t been challenged sufficient till IA.


Seventh-graders Verona Mitchell and Hopelyn Elmore, who in any other case is likely to be at Sullivan Heights Center, cited statistics on IA main the way in which in center college check scores in Sullivan County and the area. Katelynn Mitchell, a West Ridge Excessive freshman, mentioned her three years at IA helped her set larger requirements for herself, together with taking pre Superior Placement programs at West Ridge.

Heather Embershia of Johnson Metropolis, whose household plans to maneuver to Sullivan County quickly, mentioned her sixth-grade son Deklan capabilities significantly better at IA. “This system challenges him,” Imburgia mentioned of her son, who due to her husband’s navy service has been in seven faculties.

Jerry Mitchell of Bloomingdale mentioned he has one present IA scholar and a former one who flourished with the “group-oriented and tech-oriented” environment of IA.

“Some youngsters do higher with conventional studying; some youngsters are higher with hands-on,” mentioned Rodney Padgett, a guardian of a former IA scholar who’s a West Ridge freshman and one other son who’s a sixth-grader at Central Center. He urged the college board make a three-year dedication to rising IA.

“I believe it deserves an opportunity. It is one of the best you have obtained,” Padgett mentioned.

“IA was on the highest of the county listing” and stays aggressive with Johnson Metropolis, Bristol and Kingsport faculties and general was solely bettered in grades by Sevier Center. He mentioned the enrollment has fallen due to the dearth of selling and recruitment for the college through the pandemic, in addition to a lack of renovation funds in 2018 earlier than COVID.

“IA has been hit by a automotive, by funding points and COVID,” veterinarian Padgett mentioned, including that folks he is contacted have indicated they’d transfer their college students out of the Sullivan County college district or not put them there sooner or later if IA closes. “A greenback spent on IA offers you a price that’s greater than a greenback.”

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