Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Recap of Tonight's School Board Rezoning Workshop

The Plan presented this evening by the Superintendent for the system wide rezoning of the High Schools attendance zones were presented according to the letters parents individual received about 9 days ago. In the presentation this evening reasons were given for why each area was selected. Functional Capacity for each of the 12 current high schools in its condition today was sited. Enrollment projections for each high school into 2016-2017 if the proposed rezoning is approved and implemented was a part of the presentation this evening.

School Board member Thomas Deakins was the first to speak. Mr. Deakins mentioned the number of emails and the support from his district that were present this evening. He spoke specifically of the area west of Everett Rd. There are 6 neighborhoods and within the 6 subdivisions are 88 students. He is concerned with disrupting a feeder pattern. The audience applauded. He said that the issue of my concern is where are we going with middle school zones. What middle schools will feed Hardin Valley High School? We know that Cedar Bluff Middle and Karns Middle. Will Farragut Middle School with 88 students? With only the 9th grade it is only 40 students. He indicated that he would like to grandfather siblings up to a point. If the current proposal stays in effect, then he informed the board of his intent to make a motion to remove the area west of Everett Rd and he named the 6 subdivisions. The audience applauded and chanted "Thank You Thomas, Thank You Thomas."

School Board Member Dr. Dan Murphy said that he had received questions from Bearden High School parents. What is the quality of instruction between Bearden and West? Assistant Superintendent Donna Wright said the school system looks at comparability, AP/Honors. There is very little difference between Bearden and West. When there is a demand especially with AP/Honors courses we add them. The second question was if the proposed Bearden rezoning was within the Bearden Parental Responsibility Zone? Transportation Director Rick Grubb explained that the PRZ is determined by the entrance to a person’s property to where the student de boards the bus. Grubb further stated that everyone wants to be out of the PRZ in order to qualify for services. We do have exceptions in the PRZ. If a parent resides in a PRZ zone than they stay in the school within the PRZ . PRZ does not take precedence. Dr. Murphy asked If driving times are considered. Grubb stated that the state code stipulates 90 minutes one way.

School Board Member Rex Stooksbury mentioned all the emails that he has received, He apologized for not being able to answer all 700 plus emails. He then directed his comments to the 7th district residents. There are three high schools in the district. His concerns are the East Beaver Creek area, we are exchanging students with each school (audience applauded) He then sited "the ole cliche will you respect me in the morning" after the applause. He then commented that he and the Seventh district would support Powell taking Central students without losing any Powell students. He also mentioned support of grandfathering siblings. (audience applauded)

School Board Member Cindy Buttry What kind of high school will Hardin Valley be? Assistant Superintendent Wright said I don’t know if there is anything definitive. Buttry said It is extremely helpful to know the answer will it be a Comprehensive high school or an Academy/Magnet. Can we tell the community that it will have everything? Assistant Superintendent Wright said. It is all about equity, you will have it plus the new facilities. Buttry said that this plan is a significant realignment from what was discussed months ago (audience applauded) The last proposal took 400 Karns High students now it is 963 which is nearly half of Karns current population. Buttry said that there is serious inequity in only 263 students being moved from Farragut High School to Hardin Valley High School. Buttry indicated that the 3rd district and the 5th district are taking the largest hit in this rezoning proposal. The whole mid county rezoning includes the 3rd district including my subdivision. "So yes, there is a board member that is being rezoned." Superintendent Mullins said that the 900 impacted are all part of the realignment – we are putting back into Powell, 100 the first year. 1360 students to Powell after the rezoning. The system intends to survey all parents asking for their intent of grandfathering their students. Buttry said 572 out of KHS is the largest number out. That is one area I want the Superintendent to look at. It is not fair to penalize the rest of the county.(audience applauded)

School Board Member Indya Kincannon said that she wanted to ask a technical question regarding the west county proposal. 1 little corner south of I-40 is not zoned for Karns High School. Is that the truck stop or are there no kids living there. Transportation Director Grubb said that is before my time. Kincannon said in a perfect world the borders would be I-40/Pellisippi, dividing the four quadrants for each of the four high schools. Is it accurate that this would not solve overcrowding? Does this relieve the overcrowding at FHS enough? (audience shouting NO) Kincannon asked for the time line and rational for the building addition at KHS. Mullins explained that the addition to Karns was voted on by the board, prior to the High School being brought to the Board by the County Commission and County Mayor. Kincannon said that she would like to see a different process, potentially utilizing task forces to propose plans in the future.

School Board Member Sam Anderson reminded the Superintendent of the previous policy not to divide subdivisions, Holston Hills in the current plan is divided. I would ask that the Superintendent take into consideration not dividing Holston Hills.

School Board Member Jim Williams said not everybody in Knox County will be pleased when this over. I can handle losing students at Carter provided all courses are provided at Carter and at Gibbs. I am afraid in losing students at Carter and Gibbs that we will be losing programs and teachers.

School Board Member Karen Carson indicated her support for grandfathering of siblings. She indicated that she will bring forward a motion to grandfather siblings down to a sixth grade level. She then addressed her comments to the fifth district. The district has established subdivisions of 10 – 20 years. The district and these subdivisions are the ones that have been pushed from school zone to school zone for the benefit of Farragut High School's growth for many years. In 2004, the Cedar Bluff community was rezoned from Bearden to Karns and are now being proposed for rezoning to Hardin Valley.

School Board Member Robert Bratton The task force idea is wrong. All that will happen is that people from each district will say what we say here in representing our district. He asked that a Representative of MPC to come forward. Bratton also said that students will get over this before the parents. Bratton then challenged MPC with a history of questionable projections. Bratton said I have a problem with the way MPC gets its facts. MPC was off 28% in my area of South Knoxville in recent years. He told the representative of MPC, I need to understand how your growth pattern works. I want to vote on a rezoning plan where we will not rezone for 10 years.

The Representative of MPC then began to explain how they arrive at their projections.

Deakins then said that he does not believe this is a 10 year plan. He sited the Bridgemoor development in Farragut with 600 home sites and the first home is a Parade of Homes priced at $1.4 million dollars.

Kincannon then stated that it has been her impression that MPC has been accurate, if not then we need to know about it. She then went on to comment that when some board members discuss wanting the same programs that we should strive for that on a countywide level. In regards to transportation and safety concerns. "I would like proposed routes and I will visit those."

Deakins said I am not saying that MPC numbers are wrong but that there may be some discrepancies. I have to represent Hardin Valley High School. Hardin Valley is in the current Karns High zone. I represent Farragut and Hardin Valley and I will put as much energy into both schools.

Anderson said As we talk about grandfathering, parents need to understand that they MUST provide transportation. We have not been clear on that in the past.

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