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Sumner County Schools Receives $8 Million Endowment

Sumner County Schools has received an $8 million endowment from the estate of a Hendersonville man.

William Brown, a salesman and property owner, willed the majority of his estate to the school system, county Schools Director Del Phillips and County Anthony Holt announced Tuesday. Brown died Feb. 16.

Brown's will created the William and Martha Brown Education Technology Trust, according to a news release, and specified that interest and dividends earned from the trust must be used annually to aid local schools with improving technology.

District spokesman Jeremy Johnson said Phillips and Holt had been aware of Brown's wishes for several months. Brown's estate was settled in court Tuesday. "We were not aware of the estimated amount of Mr. Brown’s estate until his asset review was completed by his accountant," Johnson said. According to his obituary, Brown worked for the Nolan Company for 30 years, and was a farmer and land owner for more than 40 years. He also served in the Army and the Navy. Brown's gift may be the largest gift to a K-12 public school system in the state of Tennesee, Phillips added, but schools officials have not been to verify if that's the case. "It’s certainly the largest in Sumner County’s history," Phillips said in the release. Phillips said Tuesday that he was touched by Brown's thoughfulness and generosity.

"Mr. Brown loved the children of this county and our school system,” Phillips said in the release. “He wanted to pass on the wealth he acquired in a way that would make a lasting impact for the students of Sumner County.”

The school system likely will not be able to draw funds from the trust until the 2018-19 budget year, Johnson said. Earning of the estate will vary from year to year, he added.

In December, each student at Oakmont Elementary in Portland and North Sumner Elementary in Bethpage received an iPad or Chromebook to assist in learning. The schools were the first schools in the district to implement one-to-one technology environment. School principals will continue to to work with the district's IT staff to determine annual technology needs, Johnson said.

"We will continue focusing on technology used by teachers and students to impact instruction in the classroom," Johnson said. "Dr. Phillips believes Mr. Brown’s intent was to strengthen the district’s work on the quantity of end-user devices as well as sustainable infrastructure for future growth."

Two years ago, Sumner County purchased Brown’s Cottontown farm for schools. The 265 acres on Upper Station Camp Road is aimed to house an elementary, middle and high school complex expected to serve 4,500 students when complete.

No specific dates have been targeted for construction, but Johnson said with current growth levels, plans could begin to take place in the next three years.

Brown's will also requires $500,000 to be used to develop a park on the site, the release said.

County Executive Holt said residents like Brown "make Sumner County such a great place to live."

“Mr. Brown saw the needs of our schools and wanted to help," Holt said in the release. "Mr. Brown’s generosity has left a  legacy that will impact the lives of children for generations in Sumner County."

School Board Chairman Andy Daniels said the endowment will go a long way in helping the district meet its goal of expanding technology.

“Our goal as a school board is to make sure that we are providing our students with the best available resources to prepare them for the future,” Daniels said in the release. “This endowment will help us ensure that we are achieving that goal for many years to come.”

 

, : USA TODAY NETWORK – TennesseePublished 6:36 a.m. CT March 15, 2017 | Updated 3:04 p.m. CT March 15, 2017