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Surplus Schools: Sullivan’s School System in Real Estate? | Education

BLOUNTVILLE – Today’s Sullivan County Schools lesson is spelled surplus, and the class is Real Estate Sales / Wheeling and Dealing 101.

When it comes to disposing of old school buildings or other properties that are no longer in use, Sullivan County education officials will soon be busy declaring schools and their campuses as surplus real estate and to eliminate them.

After the reshuffles caused by the imminent opening of West Ridge High School on August 9, four school or multi-school campuses will be withdrawn in May: Blountville Middle / Elementary, Colonial Heights Middle, Sullivan North High / Middle (already reassigned by Kingsport ) and the college part of Sullivan Gardens K-8.

Front view of Blountville Elementary School.

Former facade of Blountville High School, now Blountville Middle

Former entrance hall of Blountville High School, now part of Blountville Middle.

Also in the mix is ​​a property near the Tri-Cities Airport, the former Holston Institute used for storage and last used as Holston Middle in 1980, as well as approximately two acres of a former schoolhouse in the east end of the county – in addition to other properties that may be declared surplus after being left unused for decades or used for non-school purposes.

Holston Institute

This view of the former Holston Institute property near the Tri-Cities airport. Some properties of the ball field have already been sold in a sealed auction; the next is the campus, including the buildings.

Delete two properties still in use for something, making a total of 11 properties (counting Blountville as one) that could be declared surplus in the months and years to come.

Kingsport has purchased the Sullivan North campus for the new Sevier Middle School, which will open in fall 2023, but the fate of the other schools remains unknown. However, the Blountville properties have generated the most interest so far.


County Commissioner Dwight King and Board of Education Chairman Randall Jones discuss the possibility of swapping Blountville schools and campus with the county in exchange for land and an access road in West Ridge, at Exit 63 off Interstate 81. The school board authorized obtaining an appraisal of the Blountville property as a starting point.

The soon-to-be-vacant Blountville schools have spurred interest as a potential site for prison expansion, a proposal voiced by King. However, Jones pointed out that it is the BOE’s policy that once the board determines that property owned by the school system is not necessary for the use of the school system and must be surplus, it contacts the county to assess any interest.

If the county is interested, it can buy or trade the property. Otherwise, Jones said the school system will sell him through a sealed bid or live auction. Normally the highest bidder would win, but the school system reserves the right to reject all bids.

“We don’t have a say in what it’s for if the county buys it,” Jones said.


Jones said the colleges in Blountville and Colonial Heights are probably worth much more than any schools the system has declared surplus and sold in the past, and there is great interest in Blountville.

The middle school was built as Blountville High and opened in 1932 with subsequent renovations and additions. Elementary opened in 1952 with subsequent renovations. Colonial Heights opened in 1957 as a college and became a college in 1980.

At its April meeting, the school board voted to ask BOE attorney Pat Hull to move forward with the assessment of school buildings in Blountville and nearly 30 acres. Jones said the two sites could each be worth seven figures.


Christopher Laisure, owner of Business Information Systems Inc. in Piney Flats, has purchased the old colleges in Bluff City and Holston Valley and turned them into community centers. He paid $ 190,000 for Bluff City and $ 120,000 for Holston Valley.

Laisure expressed interest in making the same conversion for Blountville schools after local residents rallied around King’s idea of ​​turning the property into a new jail extension, which King said at the meeting. the April commission just doesn’t have enough support.

Other uses could include county office space, county storage, or the Sullivan County Library expansion.

In addition, Jerome Williams of Johnson City told the county commission and the chairman of the school board that he would like to transform part of the buildings into a film school and a studio as part of a community center.

“People have contacted me to want to buy buildings,” Jones said of the properties that will soon be vacant. “I told them that we will make this decision, that it will be taken into account, after the opening of the new schools. “

In addition to West Ridge High, Sullivan Central High and Sullivan South High will become Sullivan Central Middle and Sullivan Heights Middle, respectively. Blountville Elementary students will primarily be moved to the Holston Elementary / Middle complex, with less than 50 students at Central Heights Elementary, and Holston Middle, Innovation Academy and Blountville Middle will move to Central Middle.

Board member Michael Hughes said he was impressed with Laisure’s conversion of the Bluff City Middle and Holston Valley Middle facilities into community centers.

Other school buildings currently in operation that will no longer be used as schools after May are Colonial Heights Middle and Sullivan Gardens Middle. The students of Colonial Heights Middle, as well as those of the college portion of Sullivan Gardens K-8, will be moving to Sullivan Heights with former students of Sullivan North Middle. (tncms-asset) d035853f-92d5-5487-a4e9-333e0eabb13e[3](/ tncms-asset)

Sullivan Gardens K-8, college part

This is what Sullivan Gardens Middle looks like today, part 6-8 of Sullivan Gardens K-8. It will be closed forever as a school in May.

Colonial Heights, which opened in 1957, sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood and could be used for residential purposes or as a community center, although it has a leaky roof. The commission chose not to request an evaluation at the same time as the Blountville schools.

Sullivan Gardens Middle School dates from 1931 and is adjacent to Sullivan Gardens Elementary School, which was built later. Jones said the close proximity makes its removal the most difficult of facilities that will soon be vacant.


Not all schools that close in May have potentially surplus county school properties available. Work is underway, and has been for years, to get rid of the former property of the Holston Institute near the Tri-Cities airport. The ball fields have already been sold by sealed offer. The school system and the county use buildings on the property for storage, and it once housed a Masonic Lodge which has since been dissolved. Hull has endeavored to prepare the remaining property for official board action.

Hull also began work in April on a list of nine other “possible” surplus properties, although board members at the April school board meeting narrowed that list down to seven by removing the old one. Akard school near Bristol, used as a warehouse and office space and sports grounds at Sullivan Middle School.

The board asked Hull to move forward to find out the true ownership status and use of the list of possible surplus properties, as well as an appraisal for Blountville schools.

The seven include:

• Arcadia School on Bloomingdale Road. The county’s road department stores salt there, and in the past officials have said title to this property has been transferred to the county.

• Some foundations and about two acres of the old Paperville school on School Lane near Bristol.

• The old Buffalo School on Beaver Creek Road near Blountville.

• The former Sunrise School property at 2024 Hickory Tree Road near Bristol.

• A small lot in front of the old Bluff City High School on James Avenue in Bluff City.

• Former Temple Star School property on Temple Star Road in the community of Sullivan Gardens.

• Vacant lot across from Mary Hughes Elementary School on North Austin Springs Road in Piney Flats.

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