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The Scoop - Two high schools are just a dream
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There are certain questions that can be expected at certain times of the year.

As the end of October approaches, it's common to ask, "What are you going to be for Halloween?" When Jan. 1 pops up on the calendar, the question is usually, "What's your New Year's resolution?"

With a new school year under way in Warren County, the question I often hear this time of year is "Why don't we have two high schools?"

Opening-day attendance at WCHS was reported at 1,918 students. It's an enormous school, more than twice the size of any other school in Warren County.

Some people suggest a smaller school would provide a more welcoming atmosphere. Others say two smaller schools would make us more competitive when it comes to sports. I've heard better security and less traffic also mentioned as reasons for two high schools.

While I share the belief two high schools would be better for our community, it's not going to happen. The No. 1 reason why is cost, soaring construction costs. Just look at what's happening around the state.

The Wilson County Commission is in the process of building a new high school in Mt. Juliet with a price tag of $106.5 million, according to The Tennessean.
Shelby County just opened a new high school in Collierville this year that came at a cost of $94 million, according to the Commercial Appeal.

"We're struggling with a $12 million bond for an addition to our jail and improvements to West and Bobby Ray," said Director of Schools Bobby Cox. "If we're struggling with $12 million, I'd say $90 million is out of the question."

I asked Bobby if it would be feasible to shuffle around our existing students in a way to create two high schools without an additional building project. He said it would not.

The only other school which would be suitable to use as a second high school would be WCMS. If that were done, the School Board would have to find a place for 808 students and there would be no way for other schools to absorb that much of an enrollment increase.

As for curriculum, WCHS has made great strides in offering first-rate programs in nursing, welding, Mechatronics, and other fields. Bobby points out there would be no way to divide that equipment between two high schools to make the same programs available to students at two different sites.

"I've had folks talk to me about two high schools, but when you get into a conversation about the details, you see how much more there is to it," said Bobby. "It's a good discussion, but a second high school would be a big-ticket item for sure."

Talk of having two high schools in Warren County might just be a case where the grass always seems greener on the other side of the hill. We want what we don't have.

If the new high school in Mt. Juliet is any indication, there are 106.5 million reasons why we won't be getting a new high school in Warren County any time soon.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.