Rationale for Redistricting

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) – County planners and school administrators have spent months projecting and correcting.

But one week away from voting, five of the nine Knox County School Board members, a majority, say they've considered rejecting the system-wide high school re-zoning plan as written.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd asks how did Knox County wind up with what's being considered?

By thinking big picture, trying to take the guess-work out of growth estimates, but how sharp is the focus?

"I think everybody should be sharing the burden equally," says Teresa Holloway, a Fulton parent.

"Do you think they are?" Boyd asks.

"Umm, probably," she says.

Parent after parent, in forum after forum, might argue that Teresa Hollaway would feel differently, were her children among those rezoned.

"It's probably harder on the parents. The kids will bounce back," Hollaway says.

"What I don't want to do is rezone kids and then rezone them again in five years," says Robert Bratton, Knox County School Board Member.

School officials say the Metropolitan Planning Commission studied enrollment at all Knox County High Schools the past five years.

Who's been born where for the past fifteen years, and how many of those babies went to kindergarten five years later.

"We have tried to be as comprehensive as we could," says Russ Oaks, Knox County Public Schools spokesman.

So MPC's tracked private school enrollment, new subdivisions going up, or planned, and existing neighborhoods building out.

"Curriculum department looks at curriculum implications," Oaks says. "Probably over 30 people had touched this, made observations as to how it would impact certain particular areas."

"One area may be through growing and another is still growing," Bratton says.

That, School Board Member Robert Bratton explains, is why bursting Farragut could lose more than 600 students, why crowded Karns could lose 572 more than it gains, even why Fulton's slated to shuffle with Austin East and Gibbs.

But, "I think the growth in Hardin Valley is gonna be much quicker than projections, which would lead you to believe that maybe you don't have to rezone as many children in there," he says.

Raising some parent's hopes, for expanding the G-word.

"I'd rather have them grandfathered to Farragut because it's our community, we go to school here," says Brenda Selecman, Farragut parent.

But should grandfathering let every member of a family stay in the same high school district, or only those, already in Middle School?

"There's always room to tinker," says Bratton.

"It's a big stack of dominoes," Oaks argues.

Translation: a shift of students here, could affect bus loads, even class offerings somewhere else.

Some board members say they just want clarification, the why behind the who and where.

Others say they're looking at bigger options, opening Hardin Valley with freshman only, which might ease some traditions, but limit sports and course options for two or three years.


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