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‘Brainstorming’ held at First Farragut UMC
Parents gather to discuss Hardin Valley school zones


Even on Valentine’s Day Eve — with the Vols playing at home against basketball arch-rival Kentucky — about 100 Farragut residents met Tuesday, Feb. 13, for a “brainstorming” meeting at First Farragut United Methodist Church.

Participants sought to do in two hours what the Knox County School Board has been unable to do in six months: propose a school zoning plan that will soothe ruffled feathers and “populate” a new Hardin Valley High School.

Such a proposal, deferred Dec. 4, would have sent some prospective Farragut High School pupils on long, daily round-trips to attend a new HVHS, several miles north off the Pellissippi Parkway.

“We’re just concerned citizens, not really affiliated with government or anything else,” said Pamela Treacy, among several organizers of an ad hoc school patrons’ group.

Treacy, Fiona Hill and others called the meeting a “brainstorming” to seek alternatives for drawing school attendance zone to serve the new $50 million HVHS now being built —without carving chunks off the Farragut school’s zone.

Based partly on data gleaned from October community meetings, school Supt. Charles Q. Lindsey last November proposed an attendance zone that left much of Farragut High School’s attendance zone intact. HVHS rezoning was intended to ease crowding at Bearden, Karns and especially at FHS.

But the zoning proposal left most of the new school’s student body coming from Farragut and its environs. Farragut school patrons worried that might compromise academics, athletics and other aspects for pupils at a lesser FHS campus.

To find enough students for HVHS, Lindsey proposed reassigning pupils from neighborhoods near Northshore Drive, north of Interstate 40 and along Pellissippi Parkway (as far south as West Valley) to HVHS by August 2008.

“Everyone zoned now for Farragut schools feels part of the greater Farragut community,” Treacy said. “Our community life centers around our schools. We really want to get a sense of the community.”

As groups gathered around a dozen tables in the church community room, a show of hands revealed that about half had approved Lindsey’s November zoning plan, which was tabled for further study Dec. 4. But when asked how many wished to send children to HVHS, just one participant responded. Several said they would relocate or enroll children in private schools rather than have them attend HVHS.

“Bottom line,” Treacy said, “is, this is our community, and we know our schools, our roads and people better than [most] board members.” Rather than passively await a revised zoning proposal, she said, Farragut patrons should make their own proposals.

A smaller group, she said, has met most Sundays since December at Saddle Ridge Clubhouse to discuss ideas. Those included John and Lynda Williams, Hill, Bill and Lorna Rogerson, Dan Jones, Beth Love, Sue Edwards, Todd Taylor, Jean Gilmartin and Mark Misner. For an hour, those present Tuesday also considered proposals, including:

• Converting HVHS to a middle school serving Farragut. The existing FMS would comprise ninth- and tenth-graders, thus freeing up FHS only for juniors and

seniors.

• Revising HVHS plans to make it serve all secondary grades (not just high school) for fast-growing northwest Knox County. That would leave other schools essentially intact.

• Revising high school attendance zones in an eastward rotation, so some FHS students would attend Bearden High; some BHS students might attend Karns High, and some Karns pupils would attend HVHS.

Others suggested hiring attorneys to file a patrons’ lawsuit halting HVHS construction until the district resolves attendance zone issues. Consensus was zoning issues would become final in April. Some suggested that the town of Farragut, to keep local schools intact, should “get into the education business” by operating its own schools. Much discussion followed as to how extensively Farragut supports existing schools.

Gathered at one discussion table were Brian Hornback, Stephen Kincaid, Sue Edwards, David Williamson, Greg and Robin Griffith and Cindi Altshuler.

Treacy said the county mayor, school board members and

others had not attended because most felt their presence would stifle the open discussion process.

Farragut High School principal Michael Reynolds said he and others at FHS wanted to cooperate in resolvinng the zoning impasse. But as principal, he said, Reynolds considers part

of his responsibility ensuring that 30 years of FHS improvements are not lost.

“We want to do our part,” he said. “But please don’t ask us to populate the whole [Hardin Valley High] school.”

Hill and Treacy invited

concerned Farragut area residents to meet with the group

at 7 p.m. Sundays at Saddle Ridge Clubhouse.

 

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