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Residents balk at Karns

Innuendo about poor administration, faculty and curriculum and low college acceptance flew from a small group of Cedar Bluff and West Knox County residents toward Dr. Roy Mullins, Dr. Donna Wright and Russ Oaks, all representatives of the Knox County Schools system, during a public town hall-type meeting held at Karns High School Tuesday, April 13.

The meeting was prompted by the KCS administration to field input from the aforementioned communities concerning the rezoning of five specific areas in Knox County School Board Districts 5 and 6 to District 3, in which lies Karns High School.

Chuck James, District 6 school board representative, characterized the KCS notification as “unfair to the families that lived in the five proposed areas.”

“There just isn’t enough time,” James said. “I’m going to make a motion that (the Board of Education) put this thing off for a year. I don’t know if it will go over or not, but I feel like (the parents) haven’t had enough notification on this rezoning.

“If that (motion) doesn’t go over, then I’m going to try to get a grandfather clause put in, say for four years, if you have a child already in Farragut High School their sibling will be able to attend Farragut also. Four years should be able to cover the ones that are still in school.”

James added that since KCS made public its plan to rezone he has received a few telephone calls supporting the move and more than 50 telephone calls and many letters from residents in the two zones opposing the move.

Brian Hornback, District 5 school board representative, said that he is also continuing to get feedback from the community.

“The community is split,” Hornback said following the school board workshop Monday night. “The real issue is over the compliance with the BEP.”

The Better Education Program is a state mandate that, among other things, requires no greater than a 30:1 student/teacher ratio in each class.

During the open forum, which attracted approximately 200 residents along with Karns and Farragut high schools’ faculties and administrators, about a dozen residents spoke up complaining about the move and questioning the quality of education available at Karns High School.

Dr. Donna Wright, KCS coordinator of secondary schools, assured those questioning Karns’ qualifications, as well as any school in the Knox County system, that the curriculum and faculty were on equal par.

Gina Oster, legislative chair and past president for the Cedar Bluff PTA, said that she was embarrassed by the comments made by some of the members of the assembly.

“I graduated from Karns in 1987,” Oster said, “and my son is planning to attend Karns. He also has plans to attend Duke University and I’ve checked into the curriculum at Karns and every class that he needs in order to qualify for acceptance to Duke is offered at Karns.”

Oster added that she was excited about the move and that from the perspective of a Cedar Bluff parent that the school is split now, with some matriculating to Farragut, some to Bearden and some to Karns.

“Now, if we all are assigned to Karns, then we will join that community and become part of that school. We will have a high school and not be split among three.”

KCS administrators will present their rezoning scheme to the Knox County Board of Education members during its workshop Monday , May 3, at the Andrew Johnson Building in downtown Knoxville.

The board should vote on the proposal during its regularly scheduled meeting May 5. The meeting is open to the public.

( Editor’s Note: According to KCS, school zones and School Board Districts are not aligned. School Board Districts are based on population and are adjusted as needed each 10 years according to the census. School zones are are adjusted as needed according to student population.)


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