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Tennessee wants county to take over the York Institute

Tennessee wants county to take over the York Institute

Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 9:49 am
By: The Associated Press

The Messenger 02.10.10
NASHVILLE (AP) — The state wants to transfer ownership and operation of the Alvin C. York Institute, a high school for rural students that dates back to 1929, to Fentress County to save money under Gov. Phil Bredesen’s budget-cutting plan.
According to The Knoxville News Sentinel, state legislators representing the county say the move would violate moral and legal obligations the state assumed decades ago, display disrespect for the World War I hero who founded the school and create a budget crisis for Fentress County.
The state has operated the high school since 1937.
It is the only high school directly funded by the state except for special schools for the deaf and blind and a “governor’s school” for gifted students.
Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, and Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, said as legislators representing Fentress County they were surprised by the move.
“We were all surprised and distressed. No good can come from this,” Yager said. “To me, it’s a matter of keeping your word, as a state.”
The county would have to raise property taxes by 84 cents per $100 of assessed value to cover the cost of operating the school, Yager said.
Windle said he believes Bredesen will rethink the matter.
“I believe the governor is a good man who has a great respect for education and, at the end of the day, when he takes a look at the situation, he will reconsider. I don’t think he will do anything to punish children in rural schools and, yes, that’s what this does.”
The York Institute opened in 1929 at Jamestown as a private school, 10 years after a fundraising effort to help education of rural Tennesseans was launched by York. He was a Fentress County native who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest in France during World War I and capturing 32 machine guns, killing 28 German soldiers and taking 132 prisoners.
The state took over the school in 1937 with legislative approval and has continued to operate the institute with state funding on a 400-acre campus that is also home to a wildlife management area and other state facilities.
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Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

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