Council to consider opposing use of public funds for private schools unless certain conditions met


The Oak Ridge City Council is pictured above in December 2016. (Photo courtesy City of Oak Ridge)

  The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday will consider opposing the use of public funds for private schools unless certain conditions are met. The Oak Ridge Board of Education has already taken a position. In November 2016, the Board of Education said it opposed the taking of funds from public education in any Tennessee community unless the local school board agrees, there is statutory assurance that schools receiving the funds will comply with the same curriculum and testing standards required of public schools, and until the Basic Education Program is “adequately funded” by the Tennessee General Assembly. There has been increased discussion of the potential use of school vouchers, at least in part because of the nomination and confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the new U.S. education secretary. In a memo to City Council members, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said the Tennessee General Assembly has debated the merits of implementing a school voucher system for many years as a way to provide quality education for all students in the state. “This system would allow a freedom of choice for all students to choose to leave their geographical-centered public school to another school, taking the state-allocated funds for that public school system to the new system, be it public or private,” Watson said. [Read more…]

Interior Department protects 75,000 acres from surface mining, including in Anderson County

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell


A federal decision announced Wednesday designates about 75,000 acres of mountain ridge lines, including in Anderson County, as unsuitable for surface coal mining operations, a press release said.

The decision, which affects mountains in East Tennessee, was announced by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

“Today’s action helps protect a spectacular area of eastern Tennessee that is critical to the region’s tourism and outdoor recreation economy, provides valuable fish and wildlife habitat, and supports a healthy watershed,” the press release said.

The release said the Interior Department designated the mountain ridge lines as unsuitable for surface coal mining at the request of the State of Tennessee. Besides Anderson County, the other affected counties include Campbell, Scott, and Morgan. [Read more…]

Volkswagen to expand auto plant in Chattanooga, build new SUV

Volkswagen will expand its automotive plant in Chattanooga, the company’s only U.S. manufacturing facility, and build a new midsize SUV for the American market.

Volkswagen’s total global investment for the expansion will be $900 million, and $600 million of that will be invested in Tennessee. The company expects to create 2,000 jobs in Hamilton County.

The announcement was made by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Volkswagen Group of America officials in a Monday morning press release. [Read more…]