Project GRAD founders write letter to Knox County school board ahead of budget vote

Local News

Project GRAD founders sent Knox County Superintendent Bob Thomas, individual school board members and other school officials a letter showing their disappointment in the proposed budget cuts.

The school board voted on April 11 to postpone a vote that would cut funding for Project GRAD and magnet school programs. After that decision, founders of Project GRAD came together to voice their concerns.  

“It is difficult to fathom that our school board would reject the advances of the past 18 years, and unilaterally tear down the partnership bridges that have been built to increase the success rates of our most under-privileged children, with nothing proposed of relevance to replace the current joint effort,” founders wrote. 

2018 Project GRAD graduates were honored at their annual dinner Sunday night. Fulton senior Jakaila Green says Project Grad needs to keep it’s funding. 

“It gives us inner city kids hope,” said Green. “It just lets us know we can make it to college and we can make good grades and we can do what we need to do as inner city people and prove everybody else wrong.” 

Dorothy Smith has had two daughters go through the program. She says the scholarships helped make it possible for her oldest to go to engineering school.

“The different mentors they have, they really care about the students,” said Smith. “They really try to teach them and empower them to live a better life and so that’s how its impacted my life with me and my girls.”

Knox County School Board Chair Patti Bounds responded to the letter in a statement.

“I appreciate their continued support of the program which they helped to found. KCS and Project Grad has had a strong partnership over the past decade.Negotiations are on going to continue that partnership.”

A spokesperson with the superintendent’s office also releasing a statement. 

“We appreciate the relationship Knox County Schools has with Project GRAD and our community partners. We are working on developing a revised FY2019 budget recommendation that will be considered by the Board of Education on Monday.”

The board will vote on the budget Monday April 30. 

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