Wednesday, April 25, 2007

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.


Jim Lee said...

You may or not recall but we faced this same issue on a smaller scale when the new A.L. Lotts Elementary was build in west Knox County.

Now Lotts Elementary is perceived as one of the most desirable elementary schools in the system.

Brian Hornback said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Hornback said...

Yes, Jim I am well aware of the 1993 opening of Lotts and the need to rezone out two years later.

Actually a committee drew the lines in 1992 that made Lotts to big and Roy Mullins had to go out and correct the mistakes of the public committee two years later.