Listen to audio of the full meeting below

CARTHAGE, Tenn.—On Wednesday, October 3, 2018, the Smith County School Board called a special meeting with Republican Congressional Candidate John Rose, who has offered to donate 20.86 acres of property in Gordonsville for the construction of a new full-campus high school. 

At a meeting on Feb 20, 2018, the school board voted to enter into a contingency agreement with John Rose and move forward with discussions about the details and contingencies of the property donation.

The school board also purchased the 27.81 acre Preston property earlier this year. 

The purpose of Wednesday’s special-called meeting was to give members of the school board the opportunity to ask clarifying questions about the property agreement with John Rose and discuss Rose’s wishes for the potential new high school.

“We’re all getting hit with these questions,” Director of Schools Barry Smith explained. The school board hoped that a discussion with Rose would equip them to better answer questions from the public, as well as help the board come to a decision about breaking ground on a new school.

At the opening of the meeting, Rose recalled why he felt moved to donate land for the construction of a new high school. He said he felt that the building of a new high school was a “once in a generation opportunity, maybe a once in several generations opportunity.”

Rose shared his vision of a full-campus high school where students would not have to move back and forth between facilities for sports practice or other extra circular activities. Rose feels that a full-campus school would give future students “the best possible experience.”

Rose imagined the new high school as a gathering place, a hub of the Gordonsville community, and a way for the growing city to put its best foot forward to serve both students and citizens. 

“My wife and I hope that our little boy might one day be a student at Gordonsville High School,” Rose said.

As the meeting continued, Director of Schools Barry Smith and other school board members asked Rose several questions about the requirements of the donation agreement.

One of the first questions was about the stipulation that the new school be a high school. 

“I would want to see it be a high school,” Rose confirmed.

Board members also asked Rose if he was firm on the requirement that the high school be a full-campus, state-of-the art facility that would include options for vocational training for students.

Rose stated that he would want facilities at the new high school to provide opportunities for children in the community to focus on problem-solving abilities, technical skills, and job skills. 

He shared his personal experience of how Ag Education helped him see how classroom concepts can be applied in the real world. “Agricultural education and FFA was the most important experience I had in all of my education,” Rose told the board.

No official plans have been drawn up, and the property has not been surveyed, but a team of engineers has created some mock-ups to show how a full-campus facility might fit on the Rose property.

The possibility of acquiring additional acreage for the project was discussed. Barry Smith said that the engineers “highly suggested” that 5 acres behind the Living Waters Ministry Church be acquired, as well as a portion of the Agee property that borders Rose’s property. The acquisition of both pieces of land would total 12 additional acres.

School board lawyer Jamie Winkler explained that the new school facilities could be broken down into an “instructional component” (the actual high school and classrooms) and a “extra circular component” (ball fields, sport facilities, vocational facilities, etc.). He asked if Rose would be negotiable to extending the timeline for the “extra circular component” if the board elected to focus on beginning construction of the “instructional component” of the school first. 

“I would most prefer to see a complete campus with all the attendant facilities. Am I flexible on the timeline for that? Absolutely,” Rose replied.

“You’ve got time to think it over and make the right choice,” he continued. Rose did mention that some sort of timeline would be helpful to insure that his offer does not continue indefinitely without a firm decision being made.

Initially, Rose and the school board discussed having one year to begin construction after an official agreement is made about the property. At this time, nothing official has been signed.

To close the meeting, Smith expressed his appreciation toward John Rose for taking the time to meet with the school board during the middle of election season. Smith also told Rose how grateful the board is for his offer to donate land for a new school.

The Smith County School Board will continue to deliberate about which steps they will take next.

John Rose, of the Temperance Hall Community, is the Republican candidate for Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Rose is a small business owner and farmer who was raised in Cookeville, and he is the eighth generation in his family to own and operate the family farm in DeKalb and Smith Counties.

You can listen to the full audio recording of the Smith County School Board’s meeting with John Rose below: