More Than Districts Split in Rezoning Plan

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - Some parents and students fear the "tweaks" to the Knox County School rezoning plan won't be enough to preserve some family traditions, or years-long friendships.

What's worse, they tell Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd it could put learning at risk.

Nobody is saying, at least not yet, that'll they'll try to undo what the board did Wednesday night.

But they figure they've got about 15-months try to get the board to change the fundamentals.

Otherwise, they claim: rezoning creates more problems than it solves.

"One of my best friends is Jacob. He's over there. I'm getting affected, he's not. I'm going to Central High, he stays at Powell," 13-year-old Nick Rose fears he'll lose by leaving.

Eighth grader Kevin Tipton is upset he can't shift immediately.

"We would be zoned for Bearden, which he was happy about," says Kevin's dad, Kevin Tipton, Sr. "He'll have to start high school at Farragut."

"This house is on land for four generations, and my children are third generation in Powell Schools," says Tamera Shepherd, whose kids fall under the 'grandfathering' plan. "We're gonna stay where we are."

Tamera Shepherd's children have the choice, but others she says are stuck with a plan, lacking specifics on costs: How the buses will deliver. That may even re-segregate by sending lower-income students into schools already bursting with kids just like them.

"We will no longer have a diverse mix. The diverse mix that existed before rezoning," says Tamera.

"You should think about what we're doing to these kids," says young Nick.

Some teachers say rezoning risk more than splitting friendships, forcing newbies to find their niche among established cliques in school.

If they lose committed parents, "I cannot do my job without the input, and the concern, and the involvement of the community where I teach," says Kelly Shanton, a West Valley Middle School teacher and affected parent.

"I think going en masse is important, and that's one reason I say we need to look at the feeder districts when we do this," School Board Member Robert Bratton says.

Some parents have formed a group, vowing to press for a "more comprehensive analysis when re-drawing the middle and elementary feeder school districts."

Ironically, Kevin Tipton's personal pain could turn professionally profitable, he's a realtor.

"I don't know how many people are going to end up selling and relocating because of a school zone, but I'm sure that will happen," he says.

Knox County Schools and the planning commission say they took all sorts of factors into account, growth patterns, enrollment patterns, income, when deciding where to draw the lines.

What nobody can factor, is how many, can or will move outside the lines to put or keep their children in the schools they'd prefer.


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