The Knox County Schools will receive a significant gift from the Haslam family and Pilot Flying J to refurbish and modernize the football fields at the district’s 13 high schools over a 36-month period. The project is set to break ground in April 2016. Included in the gift will be an investment in academic support for the high schools based on proposals from each of the school principals.
“We are humbled by the generosity of Pilot Flying J and the Haslam family,” said Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of the Knox County Schools. “This $10 million commitment is a tremendous opportunity to provide significant enhancements to high school academics, while also recognizing that athletics play an important role in the development of the whole student, and in the high school experience.”
Thirteen high schools will have artificial turf fields installed and other field improvements to allow for a variety of high school athletics to be played year round, as well as the hosting of community events. Five high schools (Austin East, Bearden, Gibbs, Halls and South Doyle) with tracks that are currently due to be replaced will also receive necessary enhancements as a part of the field renovation. The Knox County Board of Education and the Knox County Commission will be asked to vote to receive the gift at their respective meetings in early spring.
“The Haslam family is proud to call Knoxville both our home and the headquarters for our company,” said Will Haslam, Pilot Flying J. “We are excited about the many potential uses of these new artificial turf fields for a variety of different sports and community events through all seasons. It is a privilege for us to make this gift to Knox County students and student-athletes in honor of my grandfather, James A. Haslam II, and the more than 1,200 Pilot Flying J team members who live and raise their families here.”
“This donation will help give our schools a great opportunity to become even more competitive in both academics and athletics,” said Jim Haslam II, founder and chairman of Pilot Flying J. “Athletics are an important part of the high school experience and this will help local students for many years to come. Our family holds a special place for academics and athletics in our hearts as both are important to developing youth and inspiring future leaders.”