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School Board ponders new West Knox elementary school


A growth spurt in West Knox County has swollen elementary school populations to the point of overflowing.

“All the elementaries in West Knox are bursting at the seams,” said Chuck James, Board of Education District 6 representative. He estimates that in five years “we’ll be eight hundred to one thousand seats short in elementary schools in West Knox County.”

James said that Knox County Schools superintendent Dr. Charles Lindsey proposed building a new school, and he seconds the motion.

“It’s a need we can’t overlook,” James said.

A couple of months ago, Lindsey had recommended either adding on to several elementary schools, or building a new school, James said. Those schools included A.L. Lotts Elementary, Blue Grass Elementary and Farragut Primary and Intermediate schools. Adding on to Ball Camp Elementary is already part of next year’s capital plan, James said.

James said he thought the five Board votes necessary to approve a new school are in place.

Karen Carson, 5th District Board representative, is in agreement about building a new school.

“I hope to see the School Board approve the new West Knox elementary on March first,” she said referring to the Knox County Board of Education meeting at 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 1, in the Main Assembly Room in the City County Building.

“What could potentially happen is the board could approve it, and County Commission could say ‘no.’ I absolutely expect it to be started on next year, based on what I’m hearing,” Carson said.

Farragut Alderman Thomas “Tom” Rosseel has suggested that the town of Farragut donate land for the new elementary school, based on some conditions.

“I think it’s important for the town to make a contribution and I think this is one way to show we want to be involved,” Rosseel said. The Farragut library is sitting on land donated by the town.

Rosseel said the town currently has some land intended for a park on McFee Road. “That could be donated to the school board and other land purchased for a park,” he said.

“We’re in the process of looking at property,” James said, but added that where the school will be located is anybody’s guess.

In the meantime, schools will have to cope with the overcrowded conditions.

Farragut Intermediate School is so crowded that nine classes of youngsters meet in the five portable classrooms that sit outside the school. FIS has no room for two classes — they have to meet at Farragut Middle School. With a school population of 1,051 and growing, principal Dr. Robert Frazier said he’d love to have another portable for next school year.

At Farragut Primary School, principal Julia Craze said the school has admitted 28 new pupils since Christmas. The population is composed of 958 kindergarten, first- and second-graders.

FPS has two classes that meet in a portable this year, but with three new classes expected next year, Craze plans to request at least one new portable.

A few miles away at A.L. Lotts Elementary School, six classrooms meet in three portables. Principal Emily Lenn said the school had two portables last year, but now with slightly more than 1,100 students, she said she has requested a fourth portable for next year.

PTA president Deborah Britt said adding on to the schools isn’t the answer for additional students because areas such as the cafeteria and library are at capacity now.

“Would they not get to go to the library, eat in the cafeteria? Would we be eating lunch at ten a.-m. and two p.-m.?” she asked.

“Our kindergartners start lunch at ten-forty, and our fourth-graders finish at one-forty.”

Blue Grass Elementary School secretary Cindi Tinion said the two portables there are used for music classes for the 800 students.

 

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