Rezoning Elementary, Middle Schools: More of the Same?

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - Officially, Knox County doesn't even have a timetable, much less marching orders, for any re-working of who goes to which elementary or middle school.

Unofficially, Volunteer TV’s Gordon Boyd learns, some parents are plotting strategies to give themselves more of a say.

School board members have to put out two fires first—the budget, and finding a new superintendent. Both are likely to put any talk of rezoning on hold until at least fall, giving parents a summer to prepare.

“This rezoning of the Elementary Schools has to happen now,” Doug McCaughan claims that crowding and complications, namely that one middle school still feeds five high schools, will push Board members into a massive re-draw of the feeder school lines that'll split his family tree. “We're going to have one child way out in West Knoxville, one child near the house, one child more Downtown.

“We might tinker with some zones here and there. I don't think you'll see a broad brush approach like we used in the high schools,” Board Member Robert Bratton says different needs demand different deeds.

The new Hardin Valley High School, he says, created an opportunity to manage growth county wide, rather than simply chasing after it on the West side.

Feeder school patterns, he says, can be more flexible.

“We have large parcels of land that are on the lines between two elementary schools, that haven't been developed yet,” says Bratton. “And if one elementary school’s crowded and one its not it makes sense to move those parcels into zones where there's room.”

“I see no reason why it won't follow the same pattern as the high schools,” says McCaughan.

From plan to vote, McCaughan maintains parents have lost faith in the process.

Bratton admits, “We maybe could have done a better job, going out to communities on the front end saying, we may rezone your area.”

Doug McCaughon says that's why it may be time for parents to be civilly disobedient, “Where we employ the loopholes that are in the system, the no-child left behind laws, so that the children rezoned to the wrong schools get to attend the schools they should have attended in the first place.

The clock drove high school rezoning, Hardin Valley opens fall next year. Somebody has to go there.

By contrast, Knox County has 56 elementary schools and 14 middle schools, some on the list for repair, expansion or replacement already.

And four of the nine school board members are up for re-election next year.

All factors boding for rezoning later rather than sooner.

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