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VOL. 37 | NO. 12 | Friday, March 22, 2013

War hero's school still set to lose state funds

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NASHVILLE (AP) - The Alvin C. York Institute is still scheduled to lose direct state funding in the summer of 2014.

The high school, which was a gift of war hero York to his home county of Fentress, has about twice as many students as the county system's high school, Clarkrange.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam had floated a bill that would delay defunding the institute for three more years, but lower chamber sponsor Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, pulled it in an education subcommittee on Tuesday.

The House Majority Leader is carrying the bill for the administration.

"There's probably going to be a floor fight in both chambers and we don't know how it's going to come out," said McCormick. "With this bill, we'll have that fight in three years instead of this year."

The administration "wants to wean them off the money," McCormick said. Specifics are still undecided, he s aid.

The Cookeville Herald-Citizen reported many Jamestown area residents feel ending funding of the institute would amount to breaking a promise made to York in the 1930s.

York senior Brooke Gammon is among people who have written letters to Haslam, urging continued state support.

"Other schools learn about heroes. Our school is the reality of our hero. We have the opportunity to prosper because of his dream," Gammon wrote.

A series of meetings and rallies have been held across Fentress County in support of the York Institute.

At the hearing Tuesday, legislative supporters of the current arrangement wore "York Forever" buttons. They included Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, and Reps. Kelly Keisling, R-Harriman, and John Mark Windle, D-Livingston.

Debate was emotional, with Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, saying eliminating the state funding would "tarnish the image and the memory of Sgt. York and that's something we just don't want to do."

But the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, said York's legacy isn't the only issue. White said the legislature has "a fiscal responsibility to our state," noting that unlike the federal government, state lawmakers must approve a balanced budget.