Monday, April 30, 2007

School Board Workshop

169 citizens were in attendance. City Councilman Bob Becker, 2nd District County Commisssioner Chuck Bolus and 4th District County Commission candidate Ruthie Kulhman were in attendance. 9 School Board members and 13 Central Office staff were on the stage. the meeting began at 5:05 p.m.

Discussion of items on May 2, 2007 agenda.
#7 pull no conflict with coalition with large school districts that we just joined.
#9 pull Hugh Holt has sent a letter to the board. Has to do with terms of the contracts. Indya Kincannon said she has a problem that we can not come to terms with a company that does business in 50 states. I do not like getting a letter the day of the meeting. In the last paragraph it says if this doesn’t work look at the competitor. It appears we are dragging our feet. Law Director John Owings said there is concern.
#17 pull add #3B Special presentation of SCOPE Karns High

Item #8 Dr. Murphy asked what the effective date of grandfather siblings would be. Effective 6th – 12th grade in 2008-2009 school year. Those children would have opportunity to grandfather. Only those siblings enrolled in high school.

Indya Kincannon explained her amendment keep Spring Hill community in Fulton zone. Amendment is not about racism, classism. It is not to avoiding A-E. Spring Hill is not in my district so they can not vote for or against me. This is about equal distance between the two schools.

Cindy Buttry said in her opinion the siblings recommendation needs to come in the form of a policy. It needs to be clear this is for High School only. We will face this issue when we rezone the elementary / middle school rezoning. We will have pocket rezonings in the future and it needs to happen for every future rezoning not just this one because it is a massive countywide rezoning. PRZ if it is policy, needs to be a policy change. I want to ensure we are following policy.We are setting a precedent. Our job is to set policy.

What is the impact of cost to transportation? Superintendent Mullins said They are looking at what it takes once the zones are implemented. It is anticipated to be a wash. For the MPC the numbers given for HVHS. Did they adjust for the new zone? The Representative of MPC explained the Traffice Analysis Zones. We aggregated the small TAZ’s to the new boundary lines. Buttry said the new zones for KHS is City and no room to grow. For the area at HVHS is already developing out. I find it hard to believe that HVHS will only grow by 100 students in 10 years.

Sam Anderson responded to the question about the sibling policy. Policy is only 5 votes of the board. 5 votes can change the policy just as it take 5 votes to pass it. It has a history no permanency. On transportation, we pay by miles. We pay so many miles. If one bus runs 42 miles and we pay 50 miles. We can add 7 miles to the bus route without it costing anymore dollars. It is not important for one side to win and one to lose.

Rex Stooksbury said that his remarks would be to the 7th district. The current proposed plan for Powell and Central move 332 into Powell, 248 out. He asked Powell administration if they could handle the growth they indicated that they could. His ammendment is to rezone a specific number of 89 into Powell from Central. Only impact Powell and Central. Sam Anderson asked will you get with Superintendent and have that placed on a map before the vote.

Karen Carson asked that all ammedments be given to board in advance of Wednesday's meeting. Indya Kincannon - asked 321 from Central to Powell? Rex Stooksbury said accept 83 students at Powell. Dr. Grubb and his staff would have to identify the 83 students. 129 to Karns 120 to Central. Superintendent Mullins said This has to do with re-alignment with Greshem and Northwest Middle’s zones.

Thomas Deakins said I want to redefine the subdivisions West of Everett Road as well as the Ridgeland subdivisions will remain in FHS zone. This is not about the Town of Farragut staying together, it is about disrupting a feeder school system. Deakins said that he sees three options, 1) leave them at Farragut. 2) Wait 3-6 years, see if MPC projections are accurate in HVHS area 3) Rezone an additional area in Farragut area to move 24 %.Karen Carson asked a question of the Superintendent, would you still have the option to look at option three in a year or so, if the reccomendations are passed. Mullins said Yes. Carson said it isn’t fair to add them now. It is important to open this western border into HV. The Farragut people said at the meetings in Nov/Dec they would rather face it now not in two – three installments. Mullins said the growth appears to be in the western portion near the Loudon County line. Kincannon option three is best for me. There are some areas in the county that have perfect feeder patterns, but that is the exception. Bratton said it si about feeders. If we are going to base this on feeders , then we need to rezone feeders now. We are building from top-down (audience applause) Deakins where the growth is pushing the town is Choto Rd area which is not located in the Town of Farragut. Anderson said We started top down because we built the high school. It is logical to do it top down Deakins said 12 % of middle school. Anderson asked how many students 12% are 139 students. That is a third of Cedar Bluff student population. Anderson said we have to rezone and going to a new high school is nothing anyone has ever seen. Everyone making amendments need to bring us map and give us vey good reasons. Deakins said I am the board member that represents FHS and HVHS. I want HVHS a viable school and not diminish FHS. How many students do we really need to have to open high school? We haven’t debated that. We should have been proactive and planning and promoting this new school sooner.

Buttry said I do not plan to vote no on siblings, but I want to vote for the rezoning. Carson said They will not be broken out as it is Supt. Recommendation. Kincannon asked about Academies of high schools. Bratton asked a question of the MPC's taz numbers. 5 years average was used, the last number was an average of the 5. Is that average beginning the first year. (Taz = there are 433 individual Taz that comprise Knox County) There is a new zoning system that is more accurate and has been funded through PEFA. The training for the system will begin within the next week.

6:48 p.m. break. Recess for 10 minutes will convene 6:58 p.m.

PUBLIC FORUM

A gentleman addressed the board regarding the West High numbers are only lowered from 81. You are sending from Farragut to Bearden 384 students why send them into an overcrowded school? You say to create educationally sound feeder patterns. If there are a number of items for consideration than will help me decide. I will consider it. More traffic, more pollution. Knoxville has recently been selected as Asthma capital of the world.

A lady addressed the board I am within spitting distance to Powell Middle. I have a problem with shipping one student 5 miles to ship another 7 miles. There are flaws to the plan.

A gentleman addressed the board I have students from Powell being rezoned to Central to be replaced by students from Central to Powell. There are feeder problems North West Middle feeds from 8-11 elementary schools. NWMS feeds A-E, Karns, West, Central. Why do we have to completely rezone the entire county. I haven’t gotten the answers that I wanted to get.

President of Kensington Subdivision addressed the board. This rezoning will be unprecedented. Have you received enough information? The Board has not had enough information. 1100 students entering BHS zones. 3000 miles per trip, 6000 miles roundtrip only for the BHS area. There will be higher transportation cost, higher insurance cost, more time on buses. Gas prices are $3.00 a gallon presently.

A gentleman addressed the board. His family enjoys a high quality life and a Christian community. We do very well getting everyone around. I travel to Karns to vote.
Extent of time spent on bus. If a child is on a bus longer than 20 minutes it is wrong.

A gentleman addressed the board. I am angry about this but will try and be a voice of reason. According to the county Mayor we don’t have an overcrowded condition we have a rezoning condition. You couldn’t buy property on George Williams Road because a few neighbors got upset and wasn’t told they will get over it, like me and my kids have been. 20 alternative plans have been targeted by the community group.

A lady addressed the board. My community is not being rezoned and I do not have children. You could avoid a lot of criticism if you involved the community. I was part of the countywide forum and advocated a new process. It will not be pleasant to be a school board member because we are not going away. I am concerned for how we are spending our scarce resources without a comprehensive plan.

A gentleman addressed the board and shared his time with a neighbor. He said that he went on vacation and came home to this. His subdivision has been recognized as a geographic unit by the City of Knoxville. 50 units banded together COK bought property that was proposed for apartments. We have never been broken up. We are asking that you move the division line to Morell Road. It would impact 19 students. The lady asked. Where did you get the PRZ zones? Will these subdivisions not have bus service? Why did you split my street?

A lady representing the Holston Hills and Chilhowee Hills area asked. Have you considered the NCLB provision for those that have a option to transfer out of low performing schools.

A gentleman addressed the board. He said there were several questions that couldn’t be answered. I took on the project to determine it. $115,000.00 for HV school buses. Fuel cost 10 -20 miles $3.00 a gallon $20 per bus per day. State mandate rule that all buses rebuilt every 7 years.

A gentleman said that he was relieved that the prz was modified. His student says if that means she will be separated from her friends and neighbors. I would rather stay with my neighbors and friends. Scrap the plan, start again.

A lady spoke and said that she esentially lives in the Bearden High backyard, in the most recent rezoning plan you are separting neighbors. Our children are the future. You school board members serve an excellent role. We have seen recently what happens when students are isolated and left alone. I am requesting a delay until you can get more information.

A gentleman addressed the board I do not have a child that will be in this plan. You are splitting our neighborhood. People must drive by my house to get to BHS while my neighbors drive past my house to WHS.

A man addressed the board he said he is the son in law of Pete Lotts. He explained how he had arrived at some numbers alternative numbers using Post Office, IRS and Department of Defense data. he explained that the school district had identified a neighborhood Lexi Landing as being in Farragut but it is actually in Powell. he said. "Mrs. Carson these numbers stink." Editorial note: his father in law has endorsed and is supportive of Mrs. Carson. He concluded by saying how bad do the numbers have to be until they no good to you.

A gentleman addressed the board. I had calls from all over the community asking how I would be involved since I am a community activist. Where our kids attend school is less important than how we educate them. Rezone 3000 – 4000 kids in a system of 52000 will not help Knox County.

A lady addressed the board. She had attended Norwood Ele, Northwest Middle and was rezoned to Central. I never connected. I and several other parents in my neighborhood are single parents of seventh grade boys. There is nothing lower in the world than a 9th grade boys. At Rocky Hill, They were rezoned from BMS to WVMS now they are being rezoned from BHS to WHS. Please vote no.

A gentleman addressed the board. I am disappointed in responses from Knox County Schools administration in answering questions. Not all students take the bus due to after school activities. I would encourage you to drive the route from Everett to Marietta Church Rd preferably in the dark and rain. How were bus routes established?

A gentleman addressed the board. I am upset that you are spending 50 million dollars of hard earned tax dollars. As a school board member you should be able to say I have positioned Knox County to be a competitive internationally.

A lady addressed the board. Last fall the Schools had a plan that rezoned a few. How many professionals have been asked for input. Is opinion not fact used for these routes. Why is the route set before safety is determined. Use a systematic method. Because the process is flawed, the results will be flawed

A gentleman of the Spring Hill community spoke Fulton prepared his two children that are in college today, They are on the dean’s list. Please consider Mrs. Kincannon’s ammendment.

A gentleman representing Cambridge Woods subdivision addressed the board. We believed that we should buy a home where we work, go to church and attend school. I am representing my subdivision. Those are the joys you have in a community. It is a tragedy to attend a funeral of a student that died because of unsafe roads. Ride the routes to Hardin valley High School. The parents in Farragut are getting a bad rap. All parents have the same concern, He suggested making Hardin Valley a 5 – 12 school.

A gentleman addressed the board. Emotions run deep with these type issues. I graduated from Powell and live in Powell. I am proud to live in Knox County and am happy to have persons that so eloquently spoke to this issue. No concidence that our Superintendent Lindsey is not here. It appears that something is happening behind the scenes to make this proposal. There is a vote in 2 days. None of us believe that the increase in transportation believe it will not increase transportation cost.

A lady addressed the board. I am not being rezoned. I am here on principle. Feeder School and she quoteed from the 4/18/2007 presentation. I question whether you can create a high school zone in a vacuum without the Middle and Elementary Schools. You forgot the subdivisions along Fox Rd. Do you plan to zone them into FMS. I ask for your support of Thomas Deakins proposal and if you can not then vote no.

A lady addressed the board. She has a Freshman daughter at Fulton and ask that you keep the Spring Hill community in Fulton. We had concerns about Fulton. A couple that are very involved at Fukton invited she and her husband to breakfast and told us how great Fulton is. They are the best ingredients in the cake that is Fulton. Let the cake at Fulton be o.k. Wes and Marjorie are the best ingredients in the cake. If you have a plant that is wilted give it water.

A gentleman addressed the board. You are suggesting a 1950 solution to a 21st century problem. The school shouldn’t have been built in the area where it is. Look at the answers, we haven’t gotten the answers to the questions that were asked at the community forums.

A gentleman addressed the board. The plan is flawed, it needs to be fixed by bringing people in. I was involved in a countywide forum, the newspaper reported it as 100 people we counted 135 people. He sited the forum survey results. (This will be posted in a seperate post) Traffic studies have not been considered. Currnetly I live within 5 minutes utilizing secondary roads to my current zoned school, Bearden. It is 15 minutes up major roads to the newly zoned school, west. There are alternative plans that need to be considered. Open enrollment. Please vote NO.

No other business the meeting adjourned at 8:57 p.m.

This Is Not Surprising..Watch What You Say and Your Actions

Today's Knoxville News-Sentinel has this story. Evidently, the normally quiet forces of individual families that are in support of the rezoning are now making their voices heard.

School Board Member Dr. Dan Murphy was right at the first Community Forum when asked how many people had contacted him in support of the plan. He said people that support the plan or are unaffected normally do not contact us. That is true.

This situation has evidently changed. Brian's Blog has covered the Community Forums and meetings and will do so tonight and Wednesday. The reason was and is to allow our readers to sample the mood and sentiment.

For the most part it was enjoyable.

The concern of Brian's Blog is some of the spoken and written sentiment that says those people will bring our school down, due to where they live, what they live in or their ability to perform on tests. Every child has a right to the same "free" education as any other child.

For the record Mr. Pete Debusk, one of our communities largest employers and founder of the international company, DeRoyal as a child grew up in a single wide trailer in Rose Hill, VA. Today, drive between Powell and Halls and see what he lives in. Mr. Jim Clayton whom I have a lot of respect for and I will be reading the second edition of his book, First a Dream very soon. He has spent his life putting food on thousands of families tables through his trailer business.

I detest stereotyping of any individuals, but, especially children. So, please hold down your class warfare and your little jabs at where they live, what they live in and just accept them as kids that need a hand up.

I didn't plan it this way, but this weekend I rented four DVDs. I rented one for our youngest son. Our two older children were on a church mission trip. But I digress, I will post about that later.

The three DVDs that I rented. Bobby, Man of the Year and the Freedom Writers. We watched Bobby and Man of the Year Saturday night. (By the way, Ted I went to Regal Stadium 18 at Turkey Creek Saturday and saw Firehouse Dog with my youngest son, it is a great father/son movie)

Last night, I watched the DVD, Freedom Writers. everyone that has feelings of not wanting certain kids to come to their schools. You need to rent or buy Freedom Writers, it is based on a true story and then you will catch a small glimpse of what kids fight through everyday. It is tough to be a teenager, it is tough if you happen to live in the wrong part of town.

I really didn't mean to take this turn it just happened. Have a Great day.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wilson County School Superintendent

A Brian's Blog source close to the Wilson County School district has informed Brian's Blog that the list of candidates for Superintendent has been reduced from 5 to 2.

The former Knox County School Superintendent and current KCS consultant who was one of the 5 is not one of the 2.

A Couple of New Blogs Added to Brian's Blog Daily Reads

There are two new blog's over on the Daily Read links. One is Domestic Psychology, check it out here. The other is Reality Me, check it out, here. I didn't ask for permission to link them here at Brian's Blog, if they disappear quickly and quietly, well you know why.

I met both of these folks (who happen to be married, shh, don't tell anybody) during the High School Rezoning. From the little exposure that I have gotten to and from these folks they appear to be great people. The blogs are superior.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Superintendent Mullins Makes Modification to Rezoning Plan

Superintendent Roy Mullins has made a considerable modification to the high school rezoning plan. With the exception of a few small adjustments within the Austin East - Carter, Bearden - West. The considerable modification is grandfathering siblings to the sixth grade in 2008/2009.

I attended all Community Forums with the exception of Fulton. On the evenings where more than one forum was held, Thanks to Beth, Mark and Deborah recaps were posted on every community meeting except Fulton.

At each forum the question was asked about siblings and the grandfathering of siblings to the sixth grade. Roy Mullins listened and responded with the recommendation of grandfathering of siblings to the sixth grade.

This morning I have read where the tabloid editor girl wrote. "Sadly, there was no concession for Powell -- the community hardest hit by the plan." This is simply inaccurate, as is normal for tabloid editor girl. There were many families at the Powell meeting that requested the grandfathering of siblings, this change will help many within the Powell community. It is also inaccurate to say Powell was hit hardest. When in fact Karns is losing 900 plus students and Farragut High School is losing 700 plus students to Hardin Valley and Bearden.

It is just wished that tabloid editor girl could get more than one story right every two months. I guess that is just asking to much.

Again, this issue will go forward, Brian's Blog intended to capture the story as it happened. We captured it, I believe without bias or influence. I met many great people that have a renewed passion for this Great American Community and I look forward to working with them on future issues.

The frustration of Brian's Blog is the sensational bias journalism from North Knox County. There are many good community newspapers in this Great American Community, they are The Powell Post, The Fountain City Focus, The Farragut Press, East Knox Area News, South Knox Times and even the alternative weekly publications known as the Metro Pulse and Knoxville Voice.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Recap of the Countywide High School Rezoning Forum

This evening a Countywide High School Rezoning Forum was held at the Expo Center located at Merchants Rd and Clinton Hwy.

Nearly 130 people attended. Bob Wolfenbarger opened the meeting. He asked some general questions like How many knew of this plan prior to the media attention? How many people are opposed to the current plan? How many people want more public involvement? All the responses were unanimous.

He introduced the organizers. Cathy and Doug McCaughan, Pamela Treacy, Lisa Starbuck, Jamey Dobbs, Tamara Shepherd. Other organizers included Sharon Davis and Susanne Bentley.

Several notorious (Elected or Candidates) community members were in attendance: School Board Member Robert Bratton, County Commissioners Greg Lambert and Chuck Bolus, City Councilman Bob Becker, County Commission candidate Walter Wojnar.

The information shared with those in attendance was that they need everyone and everyone need to get 10 others to show up at the School Board workshop and meeting. The message going out is that the School Board needs to engage a process that involves the public and a process that is fair.

The message needs to be that this was a flawed process thus the results were flawed. The three action points going forward is 1) Request the School Board members to cast a No vote. 2) The Process was flawed and 3) Move forward with a new and better process.

Doug McCaughan talked about a ballot they was passed out and all participants filled one out. The information requested on the ballot were.

What is your zip code?

Please check your top 3 concerns with school rezoning

Keeping feeder schools together______________
Overcrowded/under-utilized schools__________
Travel time and distance__________________
Lack of supported data/alternative plans_______
Membership in teams and clubs______________
Effects on property values__________________
Curriculum and class offerings________________
Lack of Community involvement in planning_____
Attending school of choice__________________
School budgets__________________________
If you have unanswered questions about rezoning, write them on the back of this paper.

The results of this ballot will be tallied and submitted to the School Board. It appears that it will be a quiet weekend building up to the School Board workshop scheduled for Monday April 30, 2007 at 5:00 p.m. in the Main Assembly Room of the City County Building and the School Board Meeting for a scheduled vote on Wednesday May 2, 2007 at 5:00 p.m. in the Main Assembly Room of the City-County Building.

Let me take just a moment to say the past week and a half has been busy trying to cover and report much of the conversation. But it has opened my eyes to a new found resolve within our greater community. It has opened my eyes to people that I would not have had the opportunity to work with. As a blogger, you sometimes get in your comfort zone behind a computer monitor in your office. But, I have had so many people come up and say that they read Brian's Blog it has been heartwarming. To meet fellow bloggers Cathy and Doug McCaughan has been a wonderful experience. To have the assistance of Beth, Deborah and Mark was AWESOME. Pamela and I had some great conversation. I do not know if this issue will be over on Wednesday, if it is not then I will see you all again soon. If it is than please stay in touch and together let's stay engaged for the Great American Community with which we call home.

Good Night, God Bless and God Speed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Knox County Schools Reach Agreement With Knox County On The Future Of Hardin Valley High School

In a surprising move today. Knox County Schools and Knox County General Government have reached agreement on the eve of the last Community Forum on the Countywide Comprehensive High School Rezoning.

Knox County Schools effective immediately has abandoned construction of a new Hardin Valley High School on the Hardin Valley site. Effective tomorrow, Construction will begin on the New downtown Knox County Jail and Justice building at the Hardin Valley site.

MPC in reviewing their growth projections has determined that it is appropriate for the New Downtown Jail to be located in Hardin Valley based on the MPC growth projections and the MPC growth planning process.

Disclosure: This post was created in the spirit of The Onion.


Official Recap of the Karns Community Forum Last Night

Thanks to Deborah for sharing her notes. This will serve as the official Brian's Blog Recap of the Karns Community Forum on the Comprehensive High School Rezoning. This previous post went up this morning and both will be linked together.

The meeting started at 6:35 and was attended by KCS Asst Superintendent Bob Thomas, 3rd District School Board Representative Cindy Buttry, Director of High School Curriculum Ed Hedgepeth, Supervisor of Transportation and Zoning Dr. Rick Grubb, future HVHS Principal Sallee Reynolds, and a few other KCS personnel. About 55 citizens attended.

Ms. Buttry went straight to questions, as most people were well aware of the proposal by this point. There were a number of questions concerning curriculum and extracurricular activities at the new HVHS, including athletics, band, and vocational education. Ms. Reynolds spoke of the excellent facilities (fully equipped band room, theater, football and baseball fields, 9-lane track, etc.) and gave her vision for the new school. She will start developing programs this summer once her tenure at West HS is over. She is already getting inquiries from teachers interested in teaching at HVHS. More than likely, in this particular situation she will not have to wait until the usual April time period for teachers to request transfers, due to the big domino effect it will cause throughout the county. She wants to have the future HVHS students bond as soon as possible, and will be holding community events to get the students and their parents involved.
There were other concerns regarding grandfathering (which grade levels and whether or not siblings will be grandfathered). Ms. Buttry indicated that originally she had been against grandfathering siblings, because where do you draw the line? After listening to concerns, she is modifying her views and may be in favor of some form of grandfathering siblings.

Dr. Grubb addressed several questions about why so many students were coming out of Karns compared to other schools. He pointed out that the new school was built in the current Karns district, so one would expect a large number from Karns. He noted that, especially in the case of Farragut, they want to leave options open. If Hardin Valley grows faster than MPC projections, than future growth in Farragut could be accommodated by zoning the eastern part of the FHS zone to Bearden rather than Hardin Valley. They don’t want to move students out right now and then have to move them back – they can wait to see where the growth is fastest. He emphasized that this is not a fun process for the administration either, but choices have to be made. He addressed transportation concerns by pointing out that many students travel 16 miles one way to Carter HS, up to one hour and 20 minutes on a bus, so it is hard to have sympathy with people complaining about commutes that are increasing from 4 miles to 6 ½ miles.

The tone of the night was more positive than it has been at other community meetings, with a couple of exceptions. One parent pointed out an area that is being zoned from West HS to Karns. She expressed concern that those students would destroy the integrity of the Karns community and would change the character of the school, and commented that it almost looked like forced busing. Mr. Thomas acknowledged that the area in question might include students of a different socioeconomic group, but that every child deserved the opportunity for the best education possible. He said that maybe welcoming them with open arms was expecting too much, and was sorry she felt that way. Ms. Buttry followed up by stating that she understood what the Karns community was feeling, but that they were talking about her community – she lives in the area that is being rezoned from West to Karns. She stated that she certainly hoped they would welcome her child with open arms, just as they had welcomed her as their school board representative. She stated that she did not support what has happened to Karns and plans to vote against the plan. She encouraged the crowd to keep their questions focused on issues rather than making it about other communities.

Another parent pointed out that there has not been a buy-in by the community, and gave examples of other school districts that had gone through recent rezoning and included the community in the process. She stated that there were a lot of things not even brought to the table here, such as open zoning and fixing the magnet school problem. She encouraged the school board and administration to stop the process and start over with community participation. She invited everyone to a county-wide forum at the Knoxville Expo Center on Thursday, April 26.

However, another parent later pointed out that the longer it takes to decide on the zones, the harder it will be on the children as they won’t know which school they’ll be going to. Let the school board make a decision – we can’t keep delaying.

The forum ended at 8:05, with Ms. Buttry saying that we had set a record for the shortest forum to date!

Today's News Noon Update

Thanks to a regular reader of Brian's Blog for pointing this out. This is the noon update on the KnoxNews website. It is 2:52 in length and announces the public meeting on red light cameras that will be held tonight in Farragut. For those of you following the High School rezoning issue, this could be funny.

Community Forum Tonight at Fulton

Tonight School Board Member Indya Kincannon will host the last of the School Board sponsored Community Forums on the Proposed High School Rezoning. It will be held at Fulton High School in the Auditorium at 7:00 p.m.

Brian's Blog reporters at this time are not scheduled to cover this meeting. We will either have a reporter there or will summarize the media reports for a post tomorrow.

Brian's Blog with great assistance from Beth and Mark had first hand accounts on the three forums last Thursday. We covered Farragut and Powell the past two nights. We also had first hand accounts from a couple of individuals that attended the Karns meeting last night.

Recap of the Community Forum Held at Powell Last Night

School Board Member Rex Stooksbury opened meeting at 6:37 p.m. He said that I hope that we will keep our focus on the kids. Some of the sentiment that I am hearing is not good. I am concerned that the sentiment will bleed over into our kids. Those kids are not as good, and will drag our school down. Keep that in mind as we go through tonight. He sited the Rodney Atkins song "I have been watching You" and said good or bad our kids are watching us.

School Board Member Robert Bratton was introduced. School Board Member Cindy Butry was at Karns hosting a Community Forum there. Mr. Stooksbury read an email where Buttry said that she is true to her word to vote against this proposal. (audience applause) Stooksbury set a time limit of 1.5 hours. Please show respect throughout the evening. With that he introduced Roy Mullins. Mr. Mullins said this is the first group that I have spoken to that applauded. He introduced several Central Office employees, Dr. Wright, Doug Dillingham and Russ Oaks. Ann Troutman, Guidance Counselor Karns High School. Most impressive is that Brian's Blog did a headcount and 340 people were in attendance.

A Female Parent said that she has 2 children that are third generation Powell family. She referred to page 4 of the plan and the four drivers for the rezoning. MPC numbers on capacity will level at KHS/PHS. CHS will decline over the 8 - 10 year plan. HVHS will be at 65% capacity. We haven’t been told that every school will be held to the same mandate. The Magnet School Task Force has not addressed the lack of viability at A-E as of this date. We understand there is a problem at NWMS. We deserve an explanation of what that problem is. Transportation problems? We will suffer longer commutes. 4400 empty seats at HVHS and FHS. The reasoning for this rezoning is to fill an overcrowded West Knoxville School. Russ Oaks said the issue is of facility utilization. Functional Capacity 1) mandated teacher/student ratio. Large classes of Gymnasium, Band, Cafeteria impact functional capacity. You are impacting a Principal’s ability to use the facility. Some schools begin classes at 7:00 a.m. in order to better utilize functional capacity.

A Female Parent said that You said that you wanted to keep FHS together. 300 to HVHS from FHS and 936 from KHS to HVHS. RO – I did not say keep FHS together, I said maintain a viable community.

A Female parent said What factor was the NCLB target list for CHS in rezoning into PHS. RM said It was not, but you could transfer into a school of choice.

A Male Parent said You can count on every student that is grandfathered to coming back. I moved over here 8 years ago from Inskip. I moved away from and into Powell. I do not understand this rezoning plan.

County Commissioner Greg Lambert said I want to Thank all of these folks for showing up and I am asking the school board members that I overlap with to vote no on this proposal.

A Female Parent said with rezoning to CHS. many students started at Copper Ridge, Brickey and now you want to split them again. A question to Russ Oaks: Where do your children go to school. Fairview Elementary. The Parent asked where will your children go next year. Russ Oaks said Norris Middle. The Parent said this proposal will drop our kids from band of 150 to less than 100.

A Female Parent in the East Beaver Creek area pointed out the banners and the ads in the sports programs. Businesses and parents working together make it what it is. If you extend zone line to 640 it will make it difficult to raise funds.

A Male Parent said This is your way to fill a $50 million dollar facility when it should be FHS and KHS. I have a 7th grader and a Sophomore. Where does that put us as a family in two years? RM – the board is considering sibling grandfathering. Parent – I live 3 miles away and you can supply transportation to people 15 miles away. Parent – my tax paying money will not allow my child to be taken 3 miles away.

A Male Coach said I graduated from FHS in the early 80’s. My question is Why was this high school built? A member of the audience shouted out "LINDSEY." RM said It was built because the Mayor at the time said we are going to build it to relieve overcrowding at Farragut. The Coach said 7 representatives have declared how they will vote. Rex how will you vote? I am a district 7 representative, I have to be sensitive to the needs of all 3 schools in my district Halls, Ftn. City and Powell. I can’t cast a vote to create a negative that creates another negative. If Central has overcrowding, we will take them, but I will not vote to displace any Powell students.

A Female teacher at PHS the past 23 years spoke. She had children graduate in 1992, 1995 and 1997. We must travel a road that continues to change. This will be a vastly different school in 5 – 10 years if this plan passes. There is more talk in the community about private schools. It is not necessary to tear up every community in Knox County to build a West Knox County High School. It will be foolish for the school board to ignore the voice of the people. She said that this school is at capacity there are no empty classrooms.

A Female Parent in the East Beaver Creek area said Why the rush? MPC data show growth through 2016/2017. There is space available. There is 70% at Carter and Gibbs and they will decrease. How come those schools are under functional capacity and are not projected to grow and are not picking up students. We feel that we were rushed? RM said that the board said get the plan out in time for everyone to know.

A Female Parent said they had been in East Tennessee less than a year. They came suburban Chicago, her father was Chairman of School Board in Co. There was a similar problem in Napierville, Il and they went back to drawing board. The question was asked why can't you move Central students to Karns without involving Powell.

A Female Parent said that with 249 people being up rooted they have gathered 2000 signatures against this proposal. RM – We will take that and give to the Board Chair.

A Female Parent said that she has lived in Powell for a year. If the proposal does not go, they vote NO. What is next step? RM – If they vote it down and say come back with proposal. I will ask them what kind of proposal do you want. We had one that impacted two schools and now we have a countywide proposal.

A Female Parent in the Old Clinton Pike area moved across the country, two kids graduated from here. My child wants to be a Powell Panther and when I got the letter. He said you are moving. What will you do for special ed child and there support system RM – I suggest addressing it in an IEP through an M-Team.

A Female Parent stated that she is a 1993 resident in Powell. This is her second rezoning in three years. When zoned at PES living in Country Walk S/D I was rezoned due to the opening of the Brickey –McCLoud Ele. When I asked Diane Dozier she said "Honey, move closer to the school." I said "I could pick up a rock and hit it from here." At PES we were told the portables would be gone with the passage of this rezoning. Today, they are not gone. You just keep shuffling. Our Community park is named Powell – Levi Park is now zoned for Karns. Real Estate agents as a selling point say "zoned for all Powell schools."

A Female Parent said we presented a petition and talked to everyone, nearly everyone is saying they are looking at other options. Over $8,000.00 per student for each child enrolled in Knox County Schools. If we home school or private school what would happen. RM – if enrollment drops, money drops. It would come out from the entire system. The Parent asked about the Demographics why are the Central zone not being sent to Fulton instead of Powell.

Stooksbury explained when the vote will be and that everybody in line now will be enough.

A Male Parent said the numbers are used either way to support or used against the numbers. My kids will stay in Powell, I guarantee it.

A Male Parent that has been a high school history teacher in the 11th grade commented on what they did in Columbus, GA. The #1 school in football, but when inner city kids are zoned in (busing) it resorted to gun fights. This school will go down and you will not recognize this school in a few years. Have you done a study on the cost of gas? RM – No. The Parent went on to talk about contracted buses in Albany, GA. all the black kids going into public schools and all the white kids going to private schools. Those areas like Powell are now ghost towns. he also sited Fisk City, GA.

A Male Student asked Have you given any consideration to kids who have had best friends for 6-7 years? (audience applauded and gave the student a standing ovation) RM – I understand your concern and children make friends relatively easy.

A Female Parent in the Meredith Rd. area resident said that she was raised in Powell, Husband is from Louisville, KY. There is no sense of community like Powell in Louisville, KY. I can not home school, my husband is a police officer so we can’t afford private school. We built in Powell and believed that we would always be in Powell.

A Female Parent in the East Beaver Creek area. We wanted to build in Powell. She is a Real estate Agent. She has already started listing homes in the proposed rezoning areas. Have you considered the prospect of a shrinkage in numbers due to the proposed rezoning and parents relocating. And how does that impacts the rezoning and schools? 1) This sounds like a done deal, have you been looking @ tweaking the proposal? RM – Yes, we have and continue to look at numerous options. 2) In regards to the student that came forward. We will never know the impact this type of move will have on a student, we do not have a crystal ball.

A Male said it looks like you should move the Central kids to Gibbs instead of Powell. RM – Shannondrive Subdivision on the east side of Murphy Rd. That does impact the Gibbs high school zone.

A Female Parent asked about the PEFA study. The numbers in Farragut are increasing but you are only moving 263 students out of FHS. RM said there are 728 students being moved out of FHS. HVHS will open in 2008/2009 with 600 Freshmen and Sophomores. The Parent asked what happened to the first plan in December 2005? RM – That plan was put together only affecting FHS/KHS. The Board turned it down and directed us to go back with a countywide rezoning plan. The parent asked about the MPC data. RM – everybody has to take the numbers/data that we have. We do not have a crystal ball. The parent said I do not feel that my tax dollars are being well spent. There is no nurse at PES. I have to pay for a full time nurse to care for my child.

A Female Parent said we understand about system wide goals. We understand that all children are considered. We were never brought to an understanding of how this process was used to come to this decision. As a community group we have identified 21 different processes from school systems from all over the country that utilized community input. We encourage the board to vote it down and encourage a process that involves input from the community. We have 1.5 years to fix it.

Last Night's High School Rezoning Community Forum at Karns

Last night over 50 people attended the Community Forum hosted by Cindy Buttry. From all media reports it appears to have been a positive meeting with parents expressing support for helping to make Hardin Valley High School a great school within our Great American Community.

The only negative comment at Karns came from Doug Bataille, Knox County's Senior Director of Knox County Parks and Recreation. Bataille is an appointee of the Knox County Mayor and works at the Mayor's direction.

His comments recorded on the news report from Volunteer TV are criticizing the large number being rezoned from Karns to Hardin Valley and "only 27% coming out of Farragut" to Hardin Valley High School.

Does the Senior Director of Parks and Recreation have a bias against one community for another community within Knox County?

Check out the report from Volunteer TV, here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Couple of Follow-up Thoughts From Last Night's Meeting

One comment was made about the direct route up the Pellissippi Parkway to Hardin Valley High School. There is a direct route from deep Farragut to Hardin Valley High School that will be opening up in the near future. The Orange belt will run from the Watt Road, I-40/I-75 through Hardin Valley, coming within a mile of the high school and opening up into Karns and Powell.

There were comments about Interim Superintendent Roy Mullins not having the experience that Dr. Lindsey had with rezoning. Dr. Lindsey's tenure at Knox County was the longest of any job he has held. His time at Knox County? Seven years.

Roy Mullins has spent his entire career at Knox County and has served as the lead on all rezoning's since 1992. Even during Lindsey's term as Superintendent, he delegated the duty of rezoning to Roy Mullins.

Two Letters Concerning the High School Rezoning in todays Knoxville News-Sentinel

April 24, 2007
Comprehensive plan for rezoning applauded

I want to thank the school superintendent's office for the comprehensive rezoning plan. My home is in the Farragut-to-Bearden zone. Last year we would have been rezoned for Hardin Valley High School, which would have meant more than 10 miles to travel, including a hazardous Pellissippi Parkway at rush hour.

This would have been unacceptable for high school students as some of them would want or be expected to drive to school. The new proposed zoning of Farragut to Bearden does justice to this area, avoiding excessive travel of more than 10 miles that included Pellissippi Parkway, since no other smaller roads would have been available.

Yes, I do expect some outcry over the decision since we live in Knox County, Tennessee, in which the right to bear arms is more important than education. I do also expect outcry from the Farragut area.

Yes, I do understand the parents from Farragut who want to keep their students in the Farragut area. Unfortunately, Farragut does not have its own school system.

Again, I want to thank the superintendent's office for having the courage to do what is right.

ADRIAN SABAU
Knoxville

Rezoning complaints: Just get a grip, folks

Is it just me or do a lot of people in West Knoxville need to get a grip?

The school board came up with a plan for rezoning recently. Most of the people quoted in your paper sound like a 2-year-old when it's time for bed.

One guy even said he is considering private school because he is being forced to go to Hardin Valley. Forced to go to a brand-new, multimillion-dollar facility?

I don't object to their sense of community. It's their tone, their sense of entitlement. If you have the ability to choose between Hardin Valley High School or a $13,000-a-year school, consider yourself more fortunate than 99 percent of the world.

I am good friends with a school board member. He told me he has received dozens of e-mails and phone calls, all nasty, and one lady even left a message for his small children to hear, swearing at their father.

She shouldn't worry about the school her children are going to because, if she's the role model, those kids don't have a chance.

My kids got rezoned to Hardin Valley, too. Somebody has to go. Your children are no more special than anyone else's. Get a grip, everyone.

MIKE FRILEY
Knoxville

Monday, April 23, 2007

Recap of the Community Forum Held at Farragut Tonight

School Board Member Thomas Deakins opened the meeting promptly at 6:00 p.m. Superintendent Roy Mullins presented the reason it has become neccesary. Member of the Media in attendance – WBIR photog, WATE photog, KNS Photog, FPress photog, Lola Alapo KNS reporter. Members of the School System present were – Russ Oaks, Mr. Robert Thomas, Dr. Rick Grubb, Kathy Simms, Sallie Reynolds, HVHS Principal, Doug Dillingham, Mike Reynolds, FHS Principal, Walter Mencer. The meeting began with 195 persons in attendance and swelled to 238.

A new document was handed out at this meeting. the six subdivisons in area 1 to be rezoned from Farragut High to Hardin Valley High School asked 55 questions and the questions and answers were suplied to the public in a 9 page document.

A father began with concern about traffic safety – we heard it said that Pellissippi is not safe. bus travel on Campbell Station unsafe, Everett Rd is safe. Have traffic engineers reviewed the routes? RM – No we have not traffic enginners look at the routes. All roads in Knox Co. are controlled by Traffic Enginneering and Law Enforcement inform them when they can not use a road.

A Father asked Walk us through the process in identifying the plan, why 6 subdivisions in Farragut. RO – went through the plan and said that the population and infrastructure are not located in a grid and are distributed equally. The whole plan is transportation friendly.

A mother said we believe that all feeder schools should be kept together. Clich├ęs and Parental support Cliches form in middle school. The parent indicated that she driven from Karen Carson’s neighborhood to HVHS using similar back road routes and it is 7.2 miles to HVHS RM – FHS has an enrollment issue, you live in a growing area and rezoning will have to be done again.

Another maother said my family moved into our home last February to prepare for my son that is in 5th grade and never thought that I would be in this kind of situation. Why disrupt so many lives and families for such a small number? RM – We have to decrease the numbers at FHS. How many people if a task force is formed and we asked who wants to go to HVHS would say take me. No hands will go up

Another mother asked about open enrollment? RM – any person can request a transfer and it would be up to the principal to accept with space available. With the 90/10 split, the plan is a 10 year plan there are students from FMS to KHS 33 students. There is an increase in the number of students going from FHS to HVHS.

A father said I have a daughter that has been here since 1st grade. It has always been my intent to keep her here. Your not solving the problem to have everyone relocate their homes.

A mother said I have a daughter that we recently relocated here. I spent a week talking to Principals at all the West Knox area schools. I have a daughter with an interest in Art. A son in 7th grade and we liked what FMS had to offer, athletics is his big thing. Varisty sports. I am total ignorant of sport classification but HVHS will not be the same. You can not guarantee that all these students will have the same opportunity. We don’t understand why you don’t get it? RM - We do understand. I went to school. Corryton, Ritta, Gibbs and Halls and they all made up our high school. You make up a community with 6 subdivisions. Band together and make HVHS a great school. I opened a high school, I got to select the colors and mascot.

Roy Mullins said that this would be an appropriate time to hear from Sallie Reynolds, the appointed Principal for Hardin Valley High School. Those in attendance yelled. "No, we don't"

A mother said I don’t think we have anything against Mrs. Reynolds. Farragut is a small community it really is. She stated her concern is 16 year olds flying down these small roads to and from HVHS.

A father asked about expected enrollment at FHS if implemented? RM – 1500 – 1600 with no grandfathering . Estimated HVHS enrollment opens at 600. The parent said We don’t want to go, you need us leave us alone (audience applause)

A father asked Thomas Deakins about his subdivision Ridgeland. He quoted froma copy of letter sent to Thomas from the 6 subdivisions. All of the things in this letter also applies to our subdivision. There is 1 bus for middle school and high school. The 6 subdivisions require 3 middle school buses and 3 high school buses. TD – I can create a special amendment or include it in my ammendment. The parent said We want it included with teh 6 subdivisions.

A Male Student aske dhow much land does the school board own at Hardin Valley? RM -Elementary and H.S. combined 100 plus acres. The student asked if the board were to sell the property, would it be a conflict of interest? RM – It isn’t a conflict of interest for the board to sell the property. the student said that once 200 homes are built and the school is filled up in 4 or 5 wouldn’t you have to rezone them out. If that happens what would you do? RM – we would have to zone East. RM – MPC numbers do not reveal that.

A man said in the document of 55 questions and answers #23 proposed bus route Everett rd. You said that we currently run these route. What are the bus numbers. Have any of the points thus point warranted changing the 7 subdivisions. RM – We will listen to all the concerns, write them down and review the concerns before making a final reccomendation.

A mother said obviously some body will have to go. Why the 6 subdivisions that are integral to Farragut and not Fox Rd and Lovell Heights that are outside the two lines of Farragut. You are tearing apart the community and family. What will it take to change your mind. RM – it is not easy to rezone with existing schools and existing roads. You say rezone someone else and not me. FHS will continue to grow.

A Parent in audience shouted out Fox Rd. is going to FHS. RM – we will address middle school area in the future.
The mother said You can take the rest of those on Fox Rd and leave us alone. Will rising Fresh/Soph to grandfather. She also desires siblings to grandfather. RM – that is board discussion.

A father said Dr. Lindsey had a long history of building new schools. The parent told RM that you do not have history to do this. The parent sited Hillary Clinton "it takes a village" RM – The phsycologist that was refrenched eralier is given thier opinion. RM – If you work at it, you can make HVHS the great school it is.

A father said that his next door neighbor was School Board Chair from Clarksville/Montgomery County where Lindsey had served as Superintendent. Those three schools filled up quickly as Lindsey said that HVHS would. The school should have been in Choto or Pellissippi/Northshore. What will it take to sell the property and build the school where it needs to be. RM – it would take board action to walk away from it.

A father said 4 or 5 people ago it was said that Why are the subdivisions on Fox Rd not being rezoned to HVHS when its neighbors are? Why was that subdivision left at FHS and these are not. RM – I can’t give you an answer. RM – I am not trying to debate you, I do not remember debate on that issue. Rick Grubb said if the growth projection is accurate, that area will have to be moved. The area you are mentioning will have to move. Will it be HVHS or BHS we do not know. Keep options open. Citizen: will you look to removing all WVMS students and keep the 7 subdivisions in FHS.

A mother said that a school bus arrives at Saddle Ridge subdivision currentlyat 6:52 a.m. FPS/FIS, and 7:40 a.m. for FMS/FHS 1 bus – we should be thinking green and safety. Take the areas closer. Will you look into the safety and routes. RM – Yes, there will be other areas where you can be safe. I have been involved in every rezoning since 1994. The schools are operating 51 fewer buses than we had in 2002. School transportation travels 3.5 million miles the bus safety record in Knox Counnty is impeccable. Your children are 57 times greater that your child will be hurt in a parents car. The typical route in Knox County is 13 miles average distance and travel time is 41 minutes.

A Male student – What will you actually do for us. Will we have the clubs, sports, classes? RM – introduces Sallie Reynolds. She said I am all about the students, if we have faculty sponsors we will have every club, I am a former coach and want a strong athletic sports program. We will build a tradition together. The student said You are taking FHS students out and moving them to BHS. We are rivals, how is that? RM we are transitioning over 4 years beginning in 08/09

A father said the toughest job is being a parent. This is a small section of Farragut schools. He asked how many here have volunteered in Farragut schools. You are losing that. 16 -17 year olds led the death statistics. How do you get them back for sports/jobs. RM – parents are responsible. My two sons did that. 3 wrecks with one. 2 wrecks with the other.

A father from teh Bearden to West rezoning proposal asked if HVHS on schedule. If we do not make that a staggered schedule, it will not work. Elected officials did not have any input. RM – we shared in general terms with the School Board individually they had the opportunity to remark. If we had said we are thinking this or that about a particular zone, there would be a lot of misinformation out there. In 1992 Knox County did rezoning by committee and it didn’t work. We had to rezone the new elementary within 2 years. This is not about rezoning anybody or somebody. The need to rezone West to East is to move high school students to where there are seats and capacity.

A father said if we were not overcrowded would we be rezoning this school? RM – That is correct. The parent asked What is your confidence level that PEFA projections are accurate? RG said the model the used was a hybrid.

A father said that on 12/4/06 there was one proposal and it was tabled. Why was it tabled? RM – In December the proposal was KHS – FHS and on 1/24/07 the school board had an all day workshop. Supt. Lindsey was directed to look at countywide comprehensive rezoning. They began the process in Jnauary.

A mother and psychologist commented that you (RM) said that kids will adjust, not all kids adjust She stated that she has 20 years of clinical experience. Please consider mental health and community integration.

A mother said Our hearts and prayers are with Mr. & Mrs. Reynolds. To Roy Mullins I want you to look into the eyes of a child that you are rezoning. He is a 6th grader. Active in Pilot sports and then CBFO. He is 1 of 2 middle school students to be associated with the High School baseball team. She indicated that she had been informed by a school board member that there were an additional $9 - $12 million and that a third of it is to fund athletic facilities. Thomas Deakins indicated that it was $6.0 million that was approved by Commission some time ago, it is to address softball/parking and Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment.

A mother said What is the goal for feeder schools? RM – That is a perfect situation that we do not have. There have been some questions about the MPC numbers In a document released by Mayor Ragsdale’s office back sometime ago it said that the overcrowding numbers were necessary due to overcrowding at FHS/BHS/KHS and WHS and now we here it is Farragut's fault. If you were to move all WVMS students to BHS where will the growth be?

A father said This comes down to seven areas –vs- the other areas (Tan Rara) on Fox Rd. We are confident that the School Board will turn this down, because it is that bad. On grandfathering in Nov/Dec the previous proposal Sr, Jr and Soph were proposed for grandfathering and now it is everyone except those going to HVHS.

A father asked about bus travel before sunrise?

A mother said that she has two children that will attend each FHS/HVHS one student will be grandfathered, the other will not. RM – all in zones will go. Juniors and Seniors can come back to the old school as a grandfathered or they can go to the zoned school. Thomas Deakins – a survey will be done with all potential grandfathered students.

A father said Campbell Station Rd traffic is buzzing. These county roads are not ready for student travel.

A man representing Cambridge Woods Homeowners Assoc. suggested that the school board members get on a bus and ride the route. To the County Commissioners it is your job to develop the roads for safe student travel. He also proposed that they make it a high school/middle school for the Hardin Valley community and use it until a new middle school is built or this high school fills up.

A mother asked how many administrators have driven the proposed bus routes? About 6.

A man identifying himself as President of Saddle Ridge – They had a meeting and the club house was standing room only. If it would not make a significant difference then why do it?

A man said in defense of County Commission they improved the Hardin Valley Road to Pellissippi Parkway. For the only logical route to HVHS the ones with access to HVHS.

A mother addressed the road travel and noted that there is a mulch company near her subdivision.

A mother said this is a bad plan. In the KNS Mr. Mullins you said that we parents would get over it. We won’t We are Farragut.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

High School Rezoning Meeting for the Farragut Community

Sixth District School Board Member Thomas Deakins will be hosting the next High School Rezoning Community meeting. It will be held tomorrow Monday April 23, 2007 in the Auditorium of Farragut High School.

The forum will be held from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. Brian Hornback of Brian's Blog will be attending and taking notes for a Recap that is scheduled to be posted tomorrow evening.

Republican Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee Scores a Win

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee beat out Republican competition Saturday by more than 400 points at the Spartanburg County convention, reflecting growing momentum for his possible 2008 White House bid in South Carolina. Huckabee pulled in 3522 points, followed by Rudy Guiliani with 3161.

Huckabee also came in second place in a straw poll in Greenville County with 111 votes. Mitt Romney placed first with 132.

“My authentic conservative message is clearly resonating in South Carolina, which represents the core of the Republican Party,” Huckabee said. “We’re gaining significant momentum in South Carolina. I’m confident it will carry us through the early primaries.”

“Greenville and Spartanburg are the two biggest counties and most politically active in all of South Carolina,” said Mike Campbell, who heads up Huckabee’s efforts in the Palmetto State. “You can’t win South Carolina without winning Greenville and Spartanburg.”

“Greenville and Spartanburg represent the core of South Carolina Reagan-Bush country. It is evident that it’s fast becoming Huckabee country,” he said.

“This is a wonderful – and significant – political development for Mike Huckabee that affirms my strong belief in his values and leadership qualities. I’m very pleased, but not surprised, with these results,” said Mrs. Iris Campbell, honorary chairwoman of Huckabee’s South Carolina presidential campaign.

The former Arkansas governor left South Carolina for Washington D.C. and New York to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Among his scheduled events, Huckabee will be a guest on national news programs tonight and on Monday.

His schedule includes: Sunday, April 22, 2007.

10:30 p.m. ET – Guest on CNN’s “Newsroom Sunday” program with host Rick Sanchez to talk about current events and 2008 presidential politics.

Monday, April 23, 2007

11:30 p.m. ET – Guest on Comedy Central’s “The Stephen Colbert Report” with host Stephen Colbert. The program will re-run Tuesday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. ET and 8:30 p.m. ET.

Fred Dalton Thompson Delivers Final Blow to Partial Birth Abortion

In the report of the Supreme Court decision upholding the ban on Partial Birth Abortion. Who should get credit for the make up of the court that led to a 5-4 decision? In the opinion of Brian's Blog, it is one Fred Dalton Thompson.

Had Fred Thompson been unsuccessful in shepherding the nomination of Chief Justice John Roberts the decision would not have been 5-4 as Roberts was one of the 5 to uphold the ban on this horrendous procedure.

Thank God for Fred Thompson's service.

Recent Posts on a Couple of Blogs That Are Members of the Brian's Blog Team

Check out this blog and this blog for posts about a Democrat activist that has become a Republican according to the tabloid.

New Policy on Commenting for Brian's Blog

OK. When this blog began in August of 2004 we allowed any and all comments. A few of you were, let's be kind and say you were tabloid like. So, we implemented no commenting.

About this time last year, we implemented Commenting for only those of you that would create a blogger profile. In addition, we published every comment that was emailed to use offline.

Beginning now we have opened up commenting for any and all. Please keep in mind that we have a site meter and The Rules of Engagement for Commenting still apply. Here are the rules:

It has become necessary to establish the Rules of Engagement due to individuals in the words of my neighbor that are "ill-bred and half raised." Any obscene, racist or sexually explicit language will not be tolerated. Any personal attacks will not be tolerated. Comments that are abusive, hateful, that defame or insult will not be tolerated. Comments that are off-topic or not in English will not be tolerated. Any posting for the sake of attention will not be accepted. Comments that might be construed as threats, harassment and stalking will not be accepted and will be made available to the proper law enforcement officials. Any posting the same comment more than once will result in your original post being deleted. You take responsibility for the comments that you provide here and participate at your own risk. Brian's Blog takes no responsibility for your comments or actions. When comments are not published, it is because they violate one or more of the rules.

Any Anonymous post will be carefully reviewed by the Brian's Blog team. It will be rare that an anonymous post is published as Brian Hornback puts his name on the posts found on this blog and he believes that you should put your name on your comments, as well. For example, You can not write a letter to the Knoxville News-Sentinel or any other reputable newspaper and hide behind a shield of cowardice.

Brian's Blog reserves the right to delete any comment and will also shut down commenting should it become neccesary. This is an attempt to allow the normal regular reader of Brian's Blog to particpate without numerous steps in order to do so.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened at the School Board Workshop Wednesday

I was on the front row near the public speakers podium and a lady that I had met before came up to talk with Russ Oaks and she and I started talking. I had met her before, but she asked if I would be posting. I said that I would later tonight. I just do not live blog. I mentioned how Randy had live blogged the Commission appointments.

I told her that I do not post on, but that I do read KnoxViews, that I had removed myself some time ago. She said "Are you #9" I laughed and told her who I believe 9 to be. I said that I believed him to be a pretty good guy, that he has been critical of me. But I have respect for people that are fair and fairly professional in their criticism even of me.

Unlike the tabloid girls that attack me and others with no facts and no reason and with no professionalism.

You Read it at Brian's Blog First

On April 15, 2007 you read this post here at Brian's Blog. This morning in the Knoxville News-Sentinel you read this story.

Brian's Blog First and Accurate.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Recap of the Community Forum Held at the Bearden Last Night

UPDATE: Check the comments below and take the link. You will find some pictures from teh Bearden meeting. Thanks to Cathy and Doug for sharing your photo's.

First of all I will use abbreviations for the school names. The abbreviations and proper names are at the end of the post.

Several members of Knoxville's Media were present: Reporter Jeff Lenox and Photographer of WATE Reporter Whitney Daniels and Photographer of WVLT Volunteer TV. A Photographer for WBIR. Knoxville News-Sentinel Reporter Matt Lakin and E.W. Scripps reporter Larry Van Gilder for the publication managed by the tabloid girls. County Commissioner Lee Tramel was present. Former County Commissioner Phil Guthe was present. Announced Fourth District Seat A County Commission candidates Ruthie Kuhlman and Walter Wojnar were also present.

The headcount at the beginning of the meeting was 170 , it swelled to at least 225. Superintendent Roy Mullins began the meeting explaining that it was neccesary to move zone lines where the students are. If approved it will be implemented in teh school year 2008-2009. If approved it will impact today’s 7th graders. All others will be grandfathered. They will be rising Freshmen in 2008-2009. Students rezoned to HVHS will not be grandfathered.

At this point the public forum began.

A resident of Kensington subdivision asked if this had been planned previous to its release. BHS will be getting more students than we are giving away. RM said that it will take place in 08/09, it is never perfect in planning growth. It is neccesary to keep student bodies viabile.

Another resident said it is such a straight shot to BHS. You are putting us across a lot of roads that are unsafe. Roads with more teenage drivers that are less experienced. You have one high school Austin East that is not viable. No one wants to live in the A-E zone, it is a dangerous area. All we have is our communities to keep us safe. You are putting our kids in dangerous situations.

Another citizen said that his home is 1.1 miles from this (BHS) school, I will be traveling 8 miles to take my child to WHS. I find it hard to believe that we will be buying coupon book sales, and selling popcorn, etc to support a school not in our district. 1500 families in the Bearden area are being moved for 106 students. Don’t disrupt the lives of our families. Did school board members have any input into this plan? RM Yes. The citizen said I was never contacted. Dr.Murphy then said. As a school board member, I do not sit down and say this is where I want the line. There is a separation between governing and the school administration. RM then explained that MPC looks at demographic, population etc. the citizen then challenged saying that he believed that property values will go down. This all started because of a library, Mr. Ragsdale proposed a wheel tax and sold it on a new high school and now all of us are having to pay for it. Have you considered the cost of increased fuel and pollution?

A parent shouted out we buy because of the school not because of neighborhood.

A citizen resident from Westhampton S/D stated that the people that reside this close to the school belong in this school.

A citizen resident of Kensington referred to comments made by School Board Vice Chair Cindy Buttry at teh workshop on Wednesday night. When she satted that I have gotten rezoned. Is this a done deal? RM said it is never a done deal until the Board votes. It is a proposal. The citizen said that 60% of BHS's population will be different, For the growth in this area we are affecting the whole county. Leave the FHS – BHS to BHS and move more of FHS to HVHS, they (Farragut citizens) wouldn’t mind anyway because it is a new school. RM – FHS will continue to grow. We will have to rezone FHS out again.

A parent that currently has a student at BHS said we bought a house in this community 7 years ago, we moved out of FHS because the school is not diverse, BHS has the diversity. the fact that diversity was/is not a part of your consideration bothers me. Consider diversity (Cultural) I can not buy a house with out considering the diversity of a school. It is deplorable that you have a school in Knox County(Halls) with out cultural diversity.

A citizen said that schools are a part of the community. You are splitting up communities. In your opening remarks you referenced your own elementary school, Corryton. It is more important than that. You are not taking our concerns seriously and you are patronizing us.

A citizen said this school was built for this community. They asked for a clarification of the PRZ zone. RM said that the PRZ was created in response to OCR complaints with merger of city/county schools. The citizen reminded the Superintendent that a concern was raised about the splitting of neighborhoods was a concern @ Holston Hills at the board workshop. There is a community of 4 subdivisions that have been mistaken for 1 subdivision. Kingston Hills has 101 residences and 51 reside within the PRZ zone. West Oaks has 105 residences 59 are within the PRZ zone. Kingston Park on Dun Kirk Rd. 101 residencies 52 are within the PRZ zone lines. She suggested that the MPC go back and look at its figures, in particular Francis Station Rd. WHS to BHS. It would be more efficient to transport to BHS. She said that I have two sons 4th and 6th graders. Rocky Hill is my community, my family and friends go all the way to Kensington, you are taking our communities away from us. She referred to the November School Board meeting notes Russ Oaks at that time discussed open school zones, FHS, BHS, KHS and PHS. "As a matter of fact the projections for BHS are to decrease." Russ Oaks responded that if you look at the bar graph in the packet you have it still shows BHS with decline, they received the PEFA study and the board said let’s look at the whole community. The reason it changed is we are looking at the whole county. The citizen said the growth is west of BHS, Why are you disrupting the whole county?

A citizen father said this is a Great turnout, I will see you in 10 years and we can have this conversation again, due to the fact that he has smaller children. Why not put the oneous on the developers The numbers we are shifting 200 some students from west end to FHS. The main issue is safe driving. My teenagers can drive 5 minutes on secondary roads to reach BHS. I drove it without traffic to WHS and it took 15 minute to drive. You are putting my children in dangerous conditions. The plan doesn’t make sense. Choose your zones with a 5 mile radius and when they overlap, implement open enrollment. How many plans did you consider? RM siad this is the only recommendation. I don’t know if we made 5 or 50 adjustments.The parent asked Have you considered all options? Building smaller schools?

A resident of Kingston Hills / Kingston Woods said our community is not leveling off. Where is MS. Carson? The people who are supposed to be supporting us are not. Russ Oaks explained that she was attending the Cedar Bluff forum. The resident said you built a school where there are no people, my kids will have to change their school colors. I am an Admiral, my kids are Bulldogs that is hard. Unless you are going to tell us our kids are safe, I am not happy with it. You are answering our questions but are not listening to us. These are not lines it is patch work.

A Knox County citizen and BHS graduate in 1971. we do have a community that is involved here. I have no children. However, we are canvassing our neighborhoods, people are saying why are they doing this to us? One family said that they moved from So. Knox to live in this neighborhood for BHS. The people who would buy my house won’t buy it now. I am sitting on a house that I can not sell and if I can, I will not get what I need for it. The citizen said that Farragut is avoiding city taxes. Within a previous schools capital budget was money to purchase property for a high school. The School Board considered property on George Williams Road. We could have had a school on Geo. Williams Rd/ near A.L. Lotts but today it has 300-400,000.00 homes on it. Roy Mullins said that the folks that can do anything with developers is County Commission. The citizen said that they are in a subdivision with 460 homes within 4 subdivisions that were voluntarily annexed into the city a few years ago. RM endorsed impact fees but that is County Commission call. Let the Mayor and Commission know if you support impact fees.

A citizen asked about the final plan. The public needs to see the plan. What is the plan to be evaluated. Final compliation of the plan. RM - This is as definitive as we have now. The citizen referred to Page 5 the original motive is to relieve overcrowding at FHS. Only 264 students are being rezoned from FHS to HVHS (standing ovation) How do you reconcile that? RM - We are relieving FHS by 640 total students. The citizen said why are only 18% of FHS students being rezoned to HVHS. RM said if the school board had purchased the property on Geo. Williams we wouldn’t be here today.The citizen said that they had engaged a Phd in computer science and the results are that with 1105 students per one way trip is 3,000 miles a round trip is 6,000 miles. Let’s assume half are high school drivers and what are the safety. Have you considered that? RM said that we are always concerned, we provide bus transportation. Students driving is parents call. The citizen concluded with the statement that my neighborhood is not anti West, we are pro Bearden.

A Kensington resident asked have you considered if all students were to ride the bus? RM – I have asked that they look at the re-routing of the buses. RM – If you want staggered times, we can implement that. The parent said if you implement staggered times, you have to look at utilities cost as well. The citizen indicated that the Gettysvue development produces $12 - $14 million a year in tax revenue when the farm previously located on the property generated about a $1,000. a year. Where are our tax dollars going? Knox County budget is a half a billion dollars, we must be good stewards of the revenue. He indictaed that his family moved so they could be in Rocky Hill, WVMS and BHS zones.

A resident of Westmoreland Ct. said that he has a student in high school and middle school. His question was to Dr. Murphy will you be willing to support grandfathering of families like me. My children are separated by 2 years. Dr. Murphy said Traditionally grandfathering was excluded, where it gets complicated is where kids are spread out in age and there is a divorce and re-marriage it becomes complicated like a rubic’s cube. On the school board there is discussion about grandfathering. One board member said grandfather back to the sixth grade, well what about 5th graders. I don’t have an answer to your question.

A resident asked about Grandfathering. Has there been any consideration for more parking for those grandfathered who are driving. RO said parking is a problem at about half of the high schools. FHS, WHS not a problem at KHS and HVHS. Parking at WHS is a paid permit and is for Seniors. Only 30 -40 juniors have paid parking permits due to hardships. BHS – juniors and seniors are eligible to purchase parking spaces and the lots are Full. 2) Staffing with a child taht has medical needs, there is not a nurse in every school. RM said I would like to have a nurse in every school, we do not have the funds. Aleece Stewart is in charge of staffing nurses for KNox County Schools.

A resident of Kingston Hills asked the new WHS Principal how many teachers are leaving WHS? The Principal said NONE. The parent said that he had talked to three teachers at WHS who plan to apply for jobs at HVHS. The Principal said every year WHS replaces 7-9 teachers since he has been there. RO said the staffing process for HVHS – a minimum # of teachers for each student. For example 700 students equal 40 teachers plus administrators. Dr. Murphy was asked about how many contacts had he received in support or opposition to this plan. In emails about 100 a day, 12 phone calls a day. I do not hear from people who are in support of the plan or are not affected. People in Westmoreland and New Westmoreland love the plan.
Dr. Murphy was then challenged to represent his district and vote NO. Dr. Murphy said that he will not be bullied to a position and that his constituents number 54,000 citizens.

A resident asked Dr. Murphy why don’t you survey/poll everyone in your district to determine their position. Dr. Murphy said that he is not in a situation to take polls. RO was asked about wording in the proposal document. "set stage for middle school pattern" RO explained that in one situation KCS has 11 elementary feeding 1 Northwest middle that it feeds 5 high schools in another 11 elementary feeding Bearden Middle. In setting the stage it means to reduce # of schools they feed. The parent asked What does it mean when we see educationally sound? We do not want kids to get lost. The parent asked is this setting the stage for Rocky Hill, WVMS and BHS. What changes do you forsee? RO said we do not know. The parent asked, Why did you start with H.S. first? RO said When you plan, you plan from the back to the front. The H.S. is the terminal end. The parent asked about BHS to WHS multiple routes to WHS? Rising 6th graders would be grandfathered with the alternate proposal Dr. Murphy, will you support grandfathering 6th graders? Dr. Myrphy said that I proposed sibling being grandfathered @ Rocky Hill a few years ago and lost. I can not commit until I get my hands on the numbers, I will look into it.

A parent said I attended a meeting here 150 days ago thinking my neighborhood was impacted and found that I was not impacted. Now I come to a meeting to find out that I may be impacted . How do I impact a decision within 48 hours with the Supeintendent Reccomendation on April 30 and the vote on May 1. Dr. Murphy said that constructive emails will help impact the vote.

A parent suggested leaving the 87 students at WHS

A parent asked Who is PEFA? RO said Partnership for Educational Facilities Assessment, a group that Mayor Ragsdale put together. The parent asked Are they from Knox Co? Yes.

A parent talked about utilization being the key to a plan. Logistics is the foundation of every plan. You haven’t worked on the Logistics.

A parent asked what will the board’s voting process be? RM – there are 9 board members and a majority is 5 votes in favor. The parent then suggested sending the group west of Pellissippi to HVHS instead of BHS. For the record: the BHS rezoning to WHS is 8 miles. FHS to HVHS is 12 miles on a highway with 70 mph speed limit.

A resident of Kingston Woods suggested sending the West Hills area on Middlebrook Pike to HVHS. It is a straight shot down Middlebrook. The resident asked when they would work on Elementary and Middle School zone lines. RM in September 2007 we will begin looking at numbers of the elementary/middle schools The resident said Bearden is taking the brunt of the hit – you are totally shredding communities.

One of the final citizens to speak. If the board votes NO what will happen? RM the board votes No then they will direct the Superintendent and staff to go back and do something else with a rezoning plan. The parent said there are 23 Rocky Hill kids going to WVMS, can you do something to keep them out of isolation? Dr. Murphy – said he would ask the Superintendent to look into it.

HVHS = Hardin Valley High School
BHS = Bearden High School
RM = Superintendent Roy Mullins
A-E = Austin East
WHS = West High School
KHS = Karns High School
PHS = Powell High School
RO = Russ Oaks

Recap of the Community Forum Held at Cedar Bluff Last Night

Thanks to Beth for sharing her notes from the Cedar Bluff Community Forum for Brian's Blog last evening.

Karen Carson started off the Cedar Bluff meeting addressing about 140 parents with telling the crowd she wanted to get right to their questions. She entertained these questions until about 8:30.

The first was about the facilities at Hardin Valley and would they all be in place and paid for by the County. Fifth District County Commissioners Mike Hammond and Craig Leuthold along with Hardin Valley Principal Sallee Reynolds were in attendance and assured the crowd that all facilities will be constructed and paid for when school opens.

Mrs. Reynolds spoke to many questions about programs at the new school and a viable student body. Sports were on the minds of many since many have kids who have made Varsity teams at Karns or Bearden and now won't have that opportunity due to being rezoned to Hardin Valley.

It will depend on the sport of course-football will not have a Varsity team since the majority of the student body will be freshmen and sophomores. A parent asked Karen about Friday nights, football and marching band. She advised them to think outside the box for the first few years by having maybe Monday night be that community's night and the marching band could play at the JV team's Monday night games.

She also said that the idea of a true academy school is a moot point and they are probably looking at learning communities.

She spoke a lot about keeping feeder schools and communities together, specifically Cedar Bluff even though the county has a geographical problem and not a seat available issue. But, "Anything we can do to keep Cedar Bluff together makes sense to me." Sallee Reynold echoed that point by saying "It will be nice to work with the principals at Cedar Bluff Middle as a feeder school to get them ready for Hardin Valley". She went on to say her daughter, a senior at Farragut, has kept the same friends from Cedar Bluff Middle all the way through High School.

Carson did mention that if a neighborhood wishes to be kept at a certain school as Crestwood Hills does at Bearden, then she would be willing to work with them to propose an amendment to the zoning proposal as long as there is consensus in the neighborhood.

She says they will definitely vote on the proposal on May 2nd. An interesting note: elementary and Middle School zoning will be complete BY August 2008. People don't have as much time as they thought to make changes in lifestyles.

Recap of the Community Forum Held at Chilhowee Last Night


Thanks to Mark for sharing with Brian's Blog his report and photo's from the Chilhowee meeting.

The 3-hour meeting at Chilhowee Intermediate School last night was well-attended by parents from the Carter, Gibbs, Fulton, and Austin-East high school districts of Knox County. No one there was happy at all with the proposed rezoning.

One elderly black man started off by saying that the students at Carter High had demonstrated that they didn't want to associated with Austin-East students in the past, and he was wondering why the school superintendent is proposing that they try to force students who are now attending Carter, Gibbs, and Fulton to go to Austin-East now.

MPC Commissioner Mose Lobetti and attorney Nick Della Volpe, from Town Hall East, both asked the question of why are neighborhoods being split up. Many asked why Holston Hills, one of the 80-year-old historic neighborhoods in Knoxville, is being picked on again. They just want to be left alone and are happy with the status quo.

None of the residents have asked for this to happen. The school administration is simply admitting that Austin-East is not a viable school now. Mr. Thomas, the assistant superintendent, said that is the case. The entire magnet school concept is broken and a dismal failure.

Despite the fact that any child in the entire county can go to Austin-East under the magnet school plan, and that they can also receive taxpayer-funded transportation to go there, no matter how far away they live from it, it is losing students. Some of the course offerings that were supposed to be offered only at the magnet school are being offered by other schools in the county, which exacerbates the problem.

A poll was taken of the crowd in attendance, and 100% of them voted that there be no changes made whatsoever to these districts in Northeast Knoxville and Knox County. Another poll was taken, and not one parent said they would send their child to Austin-East. This included many black parents in attendance, whose children go to Carter, Fulton, and Gibbs now. Even the minority children going to those high schools are refusing to go to Austin-East.

Most everyone agreed that the academics simply aren't working at Austin-East. The students going there chronically underperformed every other high school in the county in virtually every subject area, according to state statistics.

The concept of open zoning was broached, which is now being done in Williamson County, allowing anyone to go to any school they choose. This was once the case in Knox County, too. There is no reason why it can't be done again.

A further point was made that the magnet school experiment is broken. Violence, lack of discipline, and lack of quality programs at Austin-East were reported by teachers who have refused to work there any longer. While there may not be violence within the school walls, crime is rampant in the neighborhood around it, including drugs, shootings, prostitution, etc.

Only a paltry $6,000 is proposed to be added to the magnet school budget next year, meaning that these problems will continue. The school board isn't willing to put money into a new high school on the east side of town in a better neighborhood like they were on the west side.

Black and white parents alike said they would either move out of the area into the county or home school their children or send them to private or Christian schools in the area before they will send their kids to Austin-East. This was a point that was made over and over again.

The school board should not be in the business of socially re-engineering the neighborhoods. Some have suggested that the reason for all of this is that it is designed to devalue properties in Holston Hills, Chilhowee Hills, and Spring Hill, in order to make those nice homes more affordable for minorities.

One parent asked why everything had to be dragged down to the lowest common denominator. He likened the proposed changes in the area to trying to put out a raging house fire with a garden hose. It is clear that trying to send more white kids to Austin-East won't solve that school's problems.

One suggestion that was being made was that Austin-East, since it is a magnet school that can be attended by everyone in the county, not have a zone at all. This is the way it is done with many magnet schools nationally. The students in the current Austin-East district would be disbursed to the zones around it, Fulton, Gibbs, Carter, South-Doyle, and West, with the choice to go either to the one of those five that is closest to them or continuing to go to Austin-East.

Another is to close Austin-East as a traditional high school and make it either a middle school, as was done with Holston a few years ago, or turn it into a trade or technical school for students who don't want to attend college, very much like Stair Tech was in Knoxville many years ago. There is a true market for a school that would focus on teaching students a trade, rather than preparing them for college. With all of the trade and service industry jobs that are growing, that is a solution that should be considered for Austin-East.

One concern is that Carter High will lose course offerings by losing students. One high school shouldn't suffer at the expense of trying to prop up another failed one, Austin-East. In fact, many of the present students at Austin-East would rather go elsewhere and that would help desegregate the entire high school system more if they were allowed to do so.

The consensus was that times have changed, and that keeping a school in a neighborhood that is riddled with crime simply doesn't make sense. The grocery at Five Points failed due to lack of patronage. Similarly, Austin-East is failing due to people leaving the neighborhood, with homes and businesses being boarded up.

There is no overcrowding issue in these zones and districts like there is in Farragut and West Knox County. The concerns that parents have on the west end, while valid, aren't nearly as serious as the concerns of those of us on the east side of town. The parents on the west end are just upset at having to have their children attend one great school versus another great school.

The parents on the east end however, are being forced to have their children leave marginal schools to attend the worst school in the county. If parents on the west end were being faced with that prospect, there would be a revolt.

It is the hope of the parents on the east side that they will get relief from the school board members who represent those west, north, and south districts. They are getting little sympathy from their own representatives, Sam Anderson and Jim Williams, both of whom indicated they are in favor of the proposed changes, with some reservations and modifications.

It was the consensus of everyone in attendance that moving students around among districts and zones with low populations anyway is simply not the solution. One person opined that "when you mess with the schools, you mess with the community and neighborhood in general." Good neighborhoods depend on good schools.

One parent said she was told by a Knox County Assistant District Attorney General that Austin-East was a "cesspool of young thugs, filled with gangs." Parents want their children to have a good, safe education in a learning environment. That simply doesn't exist at Austin-East.

It is time for the school administration and the school board to close such schools that don't provide that environment and those that are under performing. Sending those students to better schools will help raise the academic performance of those students in those poor schools as well.