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Farragut to host school forum
Future of Farragut schools – growth or overgrown?

Four trailers located behind Farragut Intermediate School.- Preston Flanders/farragutpress
With all Farragut schools quickly approaching their enrollment limits, Knox County Schools System’s plan for Farragut in the next few years affects every student and family in the community.

All of the Farragut schools’ parent involvement groups are hosting the “Future of Farragut Schools” forum so that parents can get information about their children’s education.

A panel of education decision-makers will discuss community concerns regarding the rapid growth of West Knox County and how the Farragut schools fit into the Knox County School System’s five-year capital improvement plan.

Scheduled speakers are: Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, Farragut Mayor Eddy Ford, Knox County Schools superintendent Dr. Charles Lindsey, assistant superintendent Roy Mullins, Knox County School Board representatives from 5th District, Brian Hornback and 6th District, Chuck James, and Knox County Council PTA president Karen Carson.

At a recent Knox County Council PTA general meeting held at the Teacher Supply Depot on East Churchwell Avenue, off Central Avenue in Knoxville, Mullins addressed the growth patterns in Knox County in relation to school zones for elementary, middle and high schools.

According to construction new development statistics, the school zones around all Farragut schools are the fastest growing of any in Knox County.

In addition, Mullins presented information on the Knox County Schools five-year capital improvement plan, which did not mention Farragut or West Knox County.

“West Knox County is experiencing exceptional growth,” said Farragut Intermediate School PTA president Amanda Johnson, “but the school system seems to have no plans to accommodate this increase of students.”

“The need is out west right now,” agreed Chuck James, Knox County School Board 6th District representative. However, James pointed out that funds are not pre-determined for specific projects by County Commission and the School Board.

According to Diane Jablonski, former Knox County School Board representative who served Farragut from 1994 to 2002, the School Board has publicly stated that the ideal student population for schools in Knox County is: 500 to 800 for elementary schools (grades K-5), 900 to 1,200 for middle schools (grades 6-8), and 1,200 to 1,600 for high schools (grades 9-12).

Current enrollment figures are: FPS - 874, FIS - 917, FMS – 1,219, and FHS – 2,418.

FIS now has portable classrooms, with at least one other school, FHS, also considering that option to accommodate the influx of students.

“It’s kind of a two-headed sword because it’s the schools that attract people to the area,” said Mayor Ford at the Jan. 15 Farragut Municipal Planning Commission meeting.

The commissioners also voiced their concerns about no improvements being made to the Farragut schools in the next five years.

“The schools, in my humble opinion, are at capacity,” said Commissioner Fred Jones. “Something has got to start to get to work on this issue.”

James said a new school should be built to relieve the overcrowding of Farragut, Bearden and Karns high schools. He added that three pieces of property are currently under consideration for purchase.

“I’m trying my best to get that property,” James said, “but we don’t have the funding to do everything we want to do.”

Carson pointed out that since A.L. Lotts Elementary, Hardin Valley Elementary and West Valley Middle schools (the newest schools in West Knox County) have been filled to capacity, crowding issues at the high schools are to be expected.

“The overcrowding at Farragut High School is only going to get worse,” Carson said. “We need to address this problem before it negatively impacts our children and their academic accomplishments.”

At the forum, parents can hear the decision-makers’ comments and have the opportunity to ask questions.

“There is so much information out there, and much of it is conflicting,” Johnson said. “We hope that this forum will give parents a clearer picture of the situation in Farragut and West Knox County and of where our needs fall in the Knox County Schools planning.”

“The future of our children is a very important topic,” James added, and he urged parents to attend the forum to talk to the county commissioners, who fund the projects that are needed for the growth of the Farragut schools.

The “Future of Farragut Schools” forum will take place Monday, Jan. 26, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Farragut High School auditorium.

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