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Proposed bill could affect zoning

Bills that could affect the rezoning of several Farragut neighborhoods from Farragut High School to Hardin Valley Academy are on track to be heard in both the Tennessee State Senate and Tennessee House of Representatives.

Farragut resident Pamela Treacy said, “It is House Bill 2524 and Senate Bill 2891 and it inserts one sentence to the existing criteria used for creating schools zones. It says, and this is not a direct quote, that at the option of the student, they can choose to attend the school closest to their home.

“My interpretation of that is; you might be zoned for somewhere else, and you can go there, but if you and your family feel it is in your family’s best interest to go to the school closest to your home, you can choose that option,” she added.

State Sen. and Senate Education Committee chair Jamie Woodson said the bill has not been discussed yet in committee but should be on the calendar within the next few weeks.

“I just think generally improving parents choices is a very positive conversation at both the local level and the state level. Improved parent choice is one of the reasons I have been interested in that bill,” Woodson said.

“I think improved parent choice is very important because parents know very well what is going on in their child’s life and that would be an important option to provide for parents,” she added.

“From the local school board perspective, there is another side to this and that is capacity in different schools and I think at some point we will have to balance this conversation,” Woodson said.

“At this point the qualifying language is not in the bill, but I would anticipate that local systems would need to be able to plan from year to year. And if there is an overcrowding issue, having space available in certain schools would be something that would have to be considered so that school system could effectively plan. [There would be] a process parents would have to go through, but absolutely if space is available I think that choice should be open,” she added.

Treacy’s Saddleridge neighborhood was one of the seven Farragut neighborhoods rezoned to HVA and though her two children have been grandfathered into FHS, she still actively opposes the decision to rezone her neighborhood.

“It is the message that I have always been giving, which is a strong sense of community. Many people want their children to go to the school closest to their home. They feel that sense of community is important to them,” Treacy said.

“Hopefully, this law can help school boards, when they are creating new site selection, to keep that in mind,” she added.

“My personal focus on this is the long-term strategy to recognize that people want to go to schools that are within their community.

“I think the state, by putting this in here, really should give school boards reasons to pause when they are in a site selection and what they think the zoning would be,” Treacy said.

“I am working with people through the e-mail system and letting them know about this and to contact their legislature,” she added.


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