Options for new school in Claxton

Growth could mean loss of football field

Claxton Elementary’s football field as it stands today.
Claxton’s Community Sports League announced via Facebook Tuesday, June 1, that the community will no longer have a football program due to proposed construction projects at the school —including expansion of the current building and/or a new school.

Recently, a post on the “Claxton, TN” facebook page brought the community’s attention to the Claxton Elementary football field. The field is used by local youth leagues.

The page’s administrator, Leo York, asked community members to reach out to the school board to save the field if they could.

“A lot of people are in favor of preserving the football field,” said York. “A lot of parents have worked hard over the years to get that field into the position it’s currently in and I don’t think they’re too eager to see all that work be for nothing. I want to preserve the field if it can be preserved, but obviously academics comes first.”

York said if the school was only planning to expand, then he would like to see the field preserved, but he understands if there’s plans for a whole new school that may not be possible.

“There’s still quite a bit of property beside the gymnasium that would be available to expand. I do know that other elementary schools in the county do not have football fields, but the school is allowing the Claxton sports league to use this area for football for elementary-aged kids. If that is an issue, if the schoolboard does need the land for expansion of the school, then academics is their first priority. The sports program would have to be second.

“Still – sports are an extremely important part of some peoples’ lives, and I’d like to see the football field preserved so it can continue to be used by the residents and students of Claxton.”

“We know our program was loved by many,” the announcement read, “and we will miss seeing you all play a sport you love. We wish there was a different outcome from the decision. We wish you all well in your future. We wanted to reach out to the community and say thank you for all the love and support you have shown.”

In a Q-and-A session, last month, Superintendent of Anderson County Schools Dr. Tim Parrott, announced the system’s tentative plans to build an entirely new school on the site.

“We’re in the preliminary stage now, but there’s a plan to build a new elementary school at Claxton. Even though we think it still looks good, there’s things about it that we just can’t update any more. Parts of it were built in the early 1900’s. On top of that, there are actually four different buildings in that school that aren’t connected to one another, so students have to go outside a lot to get to classes. There are places as well, that, because of how it was built, it can’t be made [Americans with Disability’s Act] accessible.”

Dr. Parrott specifically mentioned that, with how they’ve researched the budget, they are confident they can build the new school without levying new taxes.

“We’re in the preliminary stage now, but we’re looking at hopefully using about $6 million. We don’t have to raise taxes to build that new school, we don’t have to cut programs to build it.”

Later in the Q-and-A, Dr. Parrott mentioned that the new school is only one of the changes that could possibly be coming to Claxton, along with some of the board’s hopes for the new school.

“We’re excited about it. We’ve been talking about some designs. It’s an exciting time, and I think that Claxton is really on the verge of expanding and growing. That’s one school that just needs a total redo. We’re hoping that maybe some of those newer buildings can be kept – like the gym, but the newer school will have a gym, too, and we might use the old gym for more community access.”

Speaking in a one-on-one interview, Dr. Parrott said that the new school has been in the plans for a long time, but have been moved up due to the funding the county has received.

“In the board of education’s 10-year strategic plan is to build a completely new school at Claxton. We’ve renovated it the best we can. Our original plan was to maybe get some land from TVA, but in the process we found we didn’t think it was going to work out. We have to build a school where we have a school. The only place to do that is where the football field is.”