Knox Knox County Schools, County, City Partner for STEM High School

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Knox Knox County Schools, County, City Partner for STEM High School

Posted: 10/29/2010
Knox County Schools, County, City partner for STEM high school The Knox County Schools, in partnership with the City of Knoxville, is pleased to announce a proposed location for a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) magnet high school at the historic L&N Station in downtown Knoxville.

The high school is one of two STEM schools identified in Tennessee's Race to the Top proposal and scope of work. Although the school is identified in the state proposal and would receive significant startup funding from the State of Tennessee, it would be a Knox County high school and part of the Knox County Schools. Over time, it would expand to serve a regional student population.

"STEM disciplines are tightly aligned with essential '21st Century skills' such as critical thinking, innovation, and problem solving that will continue to be in high demand in the classroom and workplace of the future," said Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of the Knox County Schools. "Focusing on STEM will give students important foundational knowledge and access to incredibly rich future opportunities.

"The proposal for a STEM high school in Knox County has its origins in our strategic plan, Excellence for All Children, as well as in Tennessee's successful reform application in the federal Race to the Top competition," said McIntyre. "In fact, Tennessee's Race to the Top plan allocates $3 million for the startup of a STEM high school in Knoxville. With a confluence of interest, support, and momentum around this concept, the Knox County Schools has the chance to be a strong leader in STEM education, not only here in the Innovation Valley and East Tennessee, but across the state."

The proposal is for the Knox County Schools to engage in a 20-year lease agreement with the owners of the L&N property, Alex Harkness and Station 82 Partners. The City of Knoxville would grant the school system approximately $200,000 per year to help offset costs, meaning the net yearly facility cost for the STEM school would be about $225,000 a year for the school system. At the end of the 20-year period, ownership of the property would be transferred to the Knox County Schools. The title would revert back to the City of Knoxville if the property is no longer used for an active school.

"We are excited to assist in locating a STEM school in a historic building in the heart of the city," said Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. "This rigorous and relevant curriculum will enhance opportunities for students, as well as help them compete and excel in post-secondary education and in the workforce."

"I think the STEM school will be a quality educational option for students across Knox County, and we are pleased that it's going to become a reality," Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said. "The fact that we can likely accomplish this without taking money from the school system's capital fund is a real bonus, and that means great service for our students and savings for our taxpayers."

Prior to finalizing the terms of the lease agreement, several actions must be approved by governmental bodies: The Knox County Board of Education must approve the creation of a STEM high school, as well as the location for the school. Knoxville City Council must approve the re-amortization of the lease between Station 82 Partners and the City of Knoxville, as well as the grant to the Knox County Schools. In addition, City Council will have to approve a change to the city's current C2 downtown commercial zone, which does not currently permit the placement of a school. • The Knox County Commission and Board of Education would have to approve the acceptance of any direct financial support from the City of Knoxville for this initiative.

Plans are to address these items during November Board of Education, City Council, and County Commission meetings. If the respective governmental entities approve, the school could open as soon as August 2011.

Point of Contact at Knox County Schools is Melissa Copelan, 865-594-1905 or copelanm@k12tn.net.

For more information on Knox County Schools please visit www.knoxschools.org.

STEM High School FINANCIAL FACT SHEET

Alex Harkness and Station 82 Partners purchased the L&N in 1985 using a federal loan administered by the City of Knoxville. Under a renegotiated loan repayment agreement, the L&N's owners (Station 82 Partners) will pay the city $200,000 a year for 20 years. The Knox County School System's primary facility expense will be leasing the L&N from its owners, Station 82 Partners, for $425,000 a year over the next 20 years. That amount, however, will be offset by a $200,000 (approximate) yearly grant the City of Knoxville will provide to the Knox County Schools - which is actually the city's annual revenue from the loan repayment from Station 82 Partners. The net effect of this agreement is to "pass through" the loan repayments from the City of Knoxville to the Knox County Schools - which would lower the system's net yearly cost of operating the STEM school to just $225,000 a year. At the end of the 20-year period, the Knox County Schools will assume title of the property. The title would revert back to the City of Knoxville if the property was no longer used for an active school.