BLOUNTVILLE — A scholarship program that’s helped about 2,500 local high school graduates go on to college hasn’t yet been declared off limits from potential government cuts as Sullivan County officials scramble to cover a multimillion-dollar budget gap they’ve allowed to build up for several years.
“Educate and Grow” is funded by local governments to give local high school graduates the opportunity to further their education at Northeast State Community College.
Each year since 2001, Sullivan County has set aside $200,000 in its annual budget to provide funding for the program, which has been viewed as a model by other localities and brought favorable attention from across the nation.
Members of the Sullivan County Commission’s Administrative Committee, however, voted last week to recommend eliminating all county funding for the program beginning July 1.
That recommendation went to the Commission’s Budget Committee later in the week. While several Budget Committee members voiced support for Educate and Grow, the committee did not take any action either way on that or other Administrative Committee recommendations. The group discussion instead devolved into debate over whether or not they believed the Administrative Committee actually voted to cut Educate and Grow from the county budget — and whether or not such action meant anything, because the scholarship program was not on the list of accounts the Administrative Committee was asked to review.
Read the in-depth version of this story in Sunday’s Kingsport Times-News.