Survey says: Sullivan seeks input on vocational courses at West Ridge High

Rick Wagner • Feb 13, 2020 at 8:30 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — If you are a Sullivan County resident and want to have input on new vocational courses to be offered at the new West Ridge High School, now’s your second chance.

Sullivan County Schools on Wednesday evening launched its second online survey on career technical education programs. The survey will help determine which ones make the final cut when West Ridge opens in August 2021. The survey can be accessed on the school system’s website: sullivank12.net/.

Aaron Flanary, Sullivan County Schools CTE coordinator, said the first survey narrowed the list of potential new offerings at West Ridge to 12. The second round of survey results, he said, will help reduce the list to eight. The first survey drew 776 participants, and Flanary said he hopes and plans for the second survey to attract 1,700 (the number of students the school is designed to serve) to 2,000 participants.

He said the survey would be live until March 13.


The 12 finalists are automation (robotics), aviation flight, business management, cybersecurity, dental technology, fire management services, machine tool technology, marketing management, mechatronics, networking systems, pharmacy technician and residential electricity.

Flanary said the four current county high schools — Sullivan North, South, Central and East — have 21 stand-alone programs but that accounting for some duplicates such as cosmetology and nursing services. So far, West Ridge is planned to have 18 CTE courses of study. South, Central and East have full cosmetology programs. North, which hasn’t had one, has started an introductory class so students interested in cosmetology can start at North and then attend higher-level classes at West Ridge.

The 18 programs currently planned for West Ridge are accounting; architectural and engineering design; automotive repair; cosmetology; criminal justice; culinary arts; digital arts and design; emergency medical services; STEM-engineering; nursing services; horticulture science; mechanical, electrical, plumbing systems-HVAC; coding;, residential and commercial construction; welding; audio/visual production; commercial baking and hospitality and tourism.


Flanary said the plan for now is that the West Ridge Extension, now the Sullivan Central CTE building, likely will house upper-level cosmetology classes on the first floor and be the location of the salon, where the general public can come in for hair services. Other programs that will be at the West Ridge Extension include the digital arts class with a print shop, and the residential and commercial construction class that builds tiny homes. All told, he said six or seven of the CTE programs at West Ridge would be at the extension. 

Another program of sorts not on the list is an Eastman Credit Union branch to be inside the school and staffed by ECU employees at least three days a week. Flanary said there are potential opportunities for students in accounting, business management, marketing and personal finance to be involved directly in the branch or in learning from its ECU employees.

In addition, the north end of the school campus is to have a volunteer fire station that could help train students in firefighting.


Flanary said the survey results will not be the ultimate decision maker but rather will be considered along with the cost of some programs that would require new instructors not employed by the school system, the start-up costs of equipment and other expenses for a new program and the demand for graduates with experience in the fields of study.

“It’s more of a steering-type survey. It’s not 100%,” Flanary said.

He also said Sullivan East High isn’t being left out of new programs. Flanary said East has “11 and 1/4” CTE programs now, with the system seeking Tennessee approval for a trial GIS mapping offering to become a full program. East also has fire management, machine tool and business management programs specific to East only, although he pointed out all three of those are in the running to be offered at West Ridge.

He said over time offerings at both schools would change as demand and other factors do, including new fields of CTE study coming along.