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Closing Irving College School discussed
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Overcrowding issues at Bobby Ray Elementary may lead to building a new school between McMinnville and Irving College.
The new school would alleviate crowding at Bobby Ray and close Irving College, the school with the least enrollment. Irving College School is located approximately eight miles south of McMinnville off Highway 56 and has around 200 students in an average year.
Director of Schools Bobby Cox told members of the county’s Education Committee, “In our strategic plan, we talked about Irving College and the gym out there and addressing it. We have had informal discussions, really nothing hard-core, about maybe trying to look at a building toward Irving College that may be closer to town, down the road, that we would maybe equal our numbers out a little more, even our elementary numbers out a little bit more.”
Cox said, “Irving College’s building is old. If you walk from one end to the other, you can really tell there are three separate wings there. I think their enrollment now is about 229.”
Cox continued, “The discussion we’ve had in that strategic plan instead of putting $1 million in the gym to upgrade the gym is to maybe look at a replacement building in the next two or three years. That way it gives us the opportunity to relieve some pressure on Bobby Ray and equal those numbers out. Enrollment right now at Bobby Ray is 615.”
Irving College School is a school rich in history. The school was a college beginning in 1835 when the school was called Irving Academy, which became one of the leading colleges in Tennessee.
Irving Academy burned to the ground in 1844 following a debate. According to legend, neighbors gathered around the smoldering ruins while the ashes were still hot and resolved to rebuild the school.
A new building was erected approximately one-half mile from the original school in the fall of 1844.
In 1845, the Tennessee General Assembly granted a charter for the incorporation of Irving College.
Irving College promised to be one of the noted schools of the South, but the Civil War closed its doors when men enrolled at the school enlisted in the Southern Army. The school was later used as a military school.
In 1925, the old buildings were torn down and the school was built on its present site, but fire again destroyed Irving College in 1928.
After the fire of 1928, a brick structure was built with hope that fire would not destroy the school a third time.
In 1969, the last senior class graduated from Irving College School with the consolidation of Warren County Schools. It then became a K-8 school.
Cox’s statement followed a question by Commissioner Joel Akers, who asked, “What is the outlook for the middle school in years to come? I know it is going to have to be addressed.”
Cox replied by talking about the possibility of building a new school closer to town and said Irving College School was the first priority on the strategic plan. He never really answered the question concerning the future of the middle school. He then said they may possibly look at the middle school and high school down the road.
“We are putting a lot of money right now into that middle school. Our next big project is the HVAC over there. It is 50 years old. We’ve done a lot of work over there,” said Cox.
Enrollment numbers for area elementary schools this year range from 229 at Irving College to 670 at Hickory Creek. Irving College and Warren Academy are the only schools in the county with under 250 students. The next lowest is Morrison with 419.
Cox said, “If you look at Hickory Creek and Bobby Ray at over 600 and West at 485, that’s where we need to kind of work on evening our numbers out.”
Cox said the increased enrollment at Bobby Ray this year could be attributed to an increase in transition students into the low-income government housing and apartment areas.