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April 10, 2013

Getting back on track: Clarksville Schools board feels better about New Tech direction with town

CLARKSVILLE — A week after decrying comments from the Clarksville Redevelopment Commission’s president, Clarksville Community Schools’ board of trustees said they’re now optimistic about a decision on a site for their New Tech facility.

Jim Bemiss, board member, said after a meeting with some town officials — including Redevelopment Director Nick Lawrence and Town Council President Bob Polston — he felt like progress was going to come.

“For the first time that I’ve been involved or been around those discussions ... I felt like in the meeting, that everybody was interested in a solution,” Bemiss said. “Instead of there being barriers thrown up, there were solutions sought. I feel very optimistic.”

The board was “blindsided” by comments made by Bob Popp, redevelopment commission president, to the media about concerns of taking students away from Greater Clark County Schools with the New Tech facility and suggesting a merger of the districts.

The board has worked to get a New Tech High School — based on an educational model that is project-based and problem-focused — at Clarksville’s former Value City site for a couple of years.

Kim Knott, superintendent, said board Vice President Andy Bramer explored alternative sites and different configurations of the Value City site that both the district and town might find amicable.

Following the board’s meeting, board President Bill Wilson said after speaking with town officials, he thinks the hurdles that have come up since the beginning of the calendar year are beginning to come down.

“Instead of having barriers up, everyone is looking at solutions,” Wilson said. “We’re collectively working on this and that’s the first time I’ve seen that [in three or four months].”

The district’s administration set a budget of $5.3 million — set up in multiple phases — to complete the building project. That figure was based on the estimated cost of renovating the Value City site.

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