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school view:
School zoning update


I start my column this week with an apology to you for not writing my column on a more consistent basis.

The main issue to update you on is high school rezoning. A proposed high school rezoning plan was officially presented to the School Board on April 18. A letter from the Board of Education was sent out on April 10 to parents and students impacted by the proposed rezoning. Eleven out of twelve high schools in our school system are impacted by the proposed rezoning plan. The proposed rezoning will shift some Farragut High School students to Bearden as well as Hardin Valley High School. Seven subdivisions (Fox Run, Saddleridge, Oakley Downs, Camden Grove, Sedgefield, Orchid Hills and Ridgeland) within the town of Farragut borders are proposed to be rezoned to Hardin Valley High School.

I know many of you are concerned about this rezoning proposal. I want to thank you for the comments, suggestions, e-mail and phone calls. I understand the concerns of parents and students living in the town of Farragut as well as the parents and students living outside the town of Farragut. Rezoning is not an easy process for you or me. Please know that I have listened to your concerns (I-40/75 as the border for the zone, feeder schools, safety, bus routes, siblings, etc.). I asked the Superintendent and staff to reconsider their rezoning proposal as it relates to the neighborhoods within the town of Farragut. If the final rezoning recommendation from the Superintendent does not include my request, I will submit an amendment to the rezoning plan at our meeting May 2. An amendment will require a vote where at least five votes are needed in order to succeed.

I encourage you to attend the Monday, April 30, School Board meeting held in the large assembly room at the City/County Building, as this will be your chance to address the School Board. The School Board will take action regarding the proposed high school zone Wednesday, May 2. I encourage you to call and send e-mail to all School Board members, as all School Board members will vote on the proposed high school rezoning plan.

I thought it would be beneficial for me to share with you some of my thoughts regarding the rezoning process.

I have received more than 700 e-mails asking me to vote for and against the rezoning proposal. I find it interesting that the common theme in the majority of the e-mail I receive centers around community. We love our community schools and we should, as they are the driver of our community, at least in Farragut. The people in Powell love their community schools just as much as the people in Karns and Cedar Bluff. The big issue we face is how to deal with all the growth and still keep the community attending the community schools. The high school rezoning process presents us with an opportunity to evaluate our strategy/plan for long-term growth. I reported several months back on a study performed by The [Knox County] Metropolitan Planning Commission, The Public Building Authority, the school system and a third party-consulting group. The results of this study (PEFA Partnership for Education Facilities Assessment) provided the school system and county with information as it relates to capacity of school facilities, condition of school facilities, projected growth in population, etc. We will soon have the ability to understand many things as it relates to future development and impact on the school system. We will have the ability to model and understand how a new development of homes will impact the schools serving that area. I mention this because we are beginning to move toward a proactive process!

I am anxious to see what happens in the Hardin Valley area as the growth continues to move at a very fast pace. The MPC and County Commission continue to approve the rezoning of land from agricultural to residential. Hardin Valley Elementary is a great school and the enrollment continues to move upward. I am concerned that we will have a capacity issue (HVES) in the very near future, as the new Hardin Valley High School will propel the growth even more.

The Superintendent and staff will begin the process of elementary and middle school rezoning this coming fall. The goal is to implement the rezoning at the same time as the high school rezoning, August 2008. I will keep you updated on this process as we move forward.

We are beginning our search for a new Superintendent of Knox County Schools. I encourage you to get involved in this process. Please send me your ideas, suggestions and thoughts on this process. I want to understand the qualities you are looking for in the next leader of our school system. I encourage the entire community to provide me with your thoughts and ideas, as a great school system will benefit us all.

Thanks for reading my article. I will provide additional details regarding our school system very soon. Please visit my blog at http://thomasdeakins.blogspot.com for updates as well.

 

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