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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Twin Rivers will stay open

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Twin Rivers Superintendent David Gilliland said although the school district won't be building a new school as he had hoped, school will continue as normal in the 2008-2009 school year.

"We're going to have school," he said. "We'll continue to teach like we always have."

During a special election March 11, voters of the Twin Rivers School District overwhelmingly denied the district's request for a millage increase to build a new school and unite students of both Williford and Oak Ridge Central.

The district, which contains both the Williford and Oak Ridge Central schools, administratively consolidated four years ago as required by the state. Since that time, both campuses have remained open leaving the small district with two sets of bills resulting in mounting financial problems.

One possible solution to alleviate that problem was building a new K-12 school between the two existing campuses on 40 acres of property the district owns just outside of Ravenden in Sharp County. Once construction was complete, the district would close both the Williford and Oak Ridge campuses, which are both in need of costly repairs and upgrades costing millions, and put them on the market, said Williford High School Principal Jacob Kersey.

To move forward, the school board needed the approval from district patrons; however, they didn't get it.

The proposal would have increased the millage rate from 31.9 mills to 40.9 mills. According to information provided by the Randolph County Clerk's Office, which was in charge of the election in both Sharp and Randolph counties, there were a total of 141 votes (23.3 percent) for the 9 mill increase and 464 (76.7 percent) against.

"We got the message from the community. We were disappointed. We thought we would have community support, and obviously we didn't have it. We'll move on," Gilliland said after the election.

Move on is just what Gilliland said the school district plans to do.

Gilliland said the district is working with the state planning needed renovations to both schools. In addition, he said he and the school board are looking at ways the district may be able to save money; however he didn't have any particular ways pointed out as of June 4.

"People spoke ... " he said. "We decided we'll continue what we're doing and we'll be just fine. We're looking at everything."

Despite the concern of some district patrons, Gilliland said the district is in no fear of closing.

"We'll be fine for years to come," he said. "We'll be fine."

When asked how he could be so sure, he responded, "Because we want it."

Gilliland said the school district ended the school year with an enrollment of approximately 390 students. He said the number is close to what it was when school began. All school districts in the state had to have at least 350 students to avoid consolidation four years ago.

The 2008-2009 school year is set to begin Aug. 18.

"We're just excited," Gilliland said.

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