Apr 17 2007
04:54 pm

Since we can't go back in time and un-build the new high school, re-zoning IS going to happen. Knox County is not going to let a shiny new school sit empty while other schools overflow and decay. If we trust those who now say that only seventh grade and younger will be affected by this move, then no student should be forced to transfer school in the middle of their high school career. For anyone keeping track, that means that three of my children will still be affected by this re-zoning. I am personally concerned about the increased travel time and distance through busier intersections. The prospect of siblings attending different schools is very disconcerting to me as well. I know that several of you are facing having your historic communities torn apart. Without slinging mud at any of the specific schools, since there is someone who loves and cares about each school (except KAEC, nobody cares about it), what compromises are we willing to make?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

No compromise

No compromise coming from me until Farragut sends WAY more than 264 students to HVHS. They sent the wheel tax over the top, they clamored for $50 million for the school, they move in it. Period.

Again, the proposed rezoning plan allows Farragut High to reach 2400 students in the next few years. Not acceptable. Period.

Meanwhile, Central and Powell families didn't choose to live west, and don't choose to commute there, either. Shouldn't have to--we're not overcrowded. Period.

I'm disappointed in you, Cathy.

(P.S.--Attending in one hour a coalition meeting of four high schools that feel the same way. Write off-list for details tomorrow.)

R. Neal's picture

Y'all need to quit griping

Y'all need to quit griping and just move closer to the schools you've been rezoned for. What's the big deal? The people who figured all this out are smarter than you and they know what's best.


CathyMcCaughan's picture

I just asked what you want

Disappointed because I don't think that Knox County is just going to let that school sit empty? I don't want my children moved. I think Morrell forms a natural border that keeps our neighborhood intact.

Rachel's picture

Without slinging mud at any

Without slinging mud at any of the specific schools, since there is someone who loves and cares about each school

I'm happy to see this comment. I can understand folks having difficulty with specifics of this rezoning. Parts of it seem quite bizarre. And I agree about Farragut - the rest of us gave the western end of the county an expensive new high school, now shut up and use it already.

But here's my thing - some (not all) folks I've heard complaining about the rezoning are yelping that they don't want their child going to a specific school, say X. If X isn't good enough for your child, then why is it good enough for any Knox County child?

Yes, we need a sane, sensible zoning plan. But we also need to improve all schools so that no schools are considered school X. And I wish I heard as much passion about that.

rocketsquirrel's picture

like this

you mean this passion? why won't any of our more passionate school board members even discuss options for smaller, better schools? Why won't they look at 40 years of research before building another $50 million megaschool in the WRONG place?

so much for "every school a great school." The motto should be "all the new schools a great school."

we need economic desegregation NOW. We're voting with our feet because we have no control or voice.

How many are voting with their feet? According to this source, there are 6857 Knox County children in private school. Anybody have any data on the number of homeschoolers?

CL's picture

Farragut is only sending 264

Farragut is only sending 264 to HVHS? Geez, I would have thought it would have been more than that. It really wouldn't surprise me if Bearden was sending more than Farragut.

Knox Insider 007's picture

The number

is misleading. FHS sending 264 to HVHS. How many total students are being rezoned out of FHS to BHS, KHS, and HVHS?
That is the real numbers.

Pamela Treacy's picture

Farragut Numbers

You have to look at feeder school alignments to make this work for the children. I encourage you to take a step back, take your kids out of this and think about all the children going forward. Do the proposed zones work for the future? Does it make sense to have middle schools split into five high schools like northwest? What is our goal in that area? I would love to see smart feeder school alignment -- with maybe two middle schoools feeding into each high school. My area is proposed to have 10% of the middle school being zoned for a new high school. 40 8th graders will start high school with 300 plus kids they do not know. They will leave all the other friendships behind. I have said it before strong communtiites = good schools. They go hand in hand. How can we make this work across the county?

Should we all say STOP -- let's do a "do over?" I am sincerly seeking solutions.

I am also growing tired of people putting the Farragut communtiy down. The Farragut High School community didn't ask for a new school, we asked for relief from overcrowding. They were holding classes in closets. The solution recommended by the school board and government was a new school, preferably south of interstate 40 as a feeder school for AL Lotts and West Valley. We didn't ask for a school in Hardin Valley.

I have learned so much from this experience. Too many people are not watching what government and the school board are doing. We must stay engaged and involved.

Please try to look at this from all aspects. i really hate what this is doing to our greater Knox County Community. We need to be focusing on how to make our educational system better. I am not discounting the importance of this rezoning. Because I believe it is the key to make the overall system better. I guess I am just frustrated by the process.

Sorry for the rant everyone, but I am growing tired.

Bbeanster's picture

Maybe Farragut didn't ask

Maybe Farragut didn't ask for a school in Hardin Valley, but y'all sure did scream and holler about how it wasn't going to be built BIG enough, even though the karns addition was going forward -- didn't you? I'm pretty sure I didn't just hallucinate that uproar.

Honestly, although my community isn't much affected by the current plan, I'm aggravated by the notion that so many of us must be so disrupted to accommodate deep west Knox County. Ragsdale sold his damn wheel tax on the back of this school, and deep west bought it hook, line and sinker, thereby imposing it on the rest of us.

redmondkr's picture

Y'all need to quit griping

Y'all need to quit griping and just move closer to the schools you've been rezoned for. What's the big deal?

"Do you mean to tell me, Katy Scarlet Ohara that Tara, that land doesn't mean anything to you? Why land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it's the only thing that lasts.

It's proud I am that I'm Irish. And don't you be forgetting, missy, that you're half Irish, too, and to anyone with a drop of Irish blood in them, why the land they live on is like their mother. Oh, but there, there, now you're just a child. It'll come to you, this love of the land. there's no getting away from it if you're Irish."

Cue Tara theme.

Sorry, I was having a senior moment.

Come See Us at

The Hill Online

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Heads Up!

Is anyone going to question why nearly 12,000 Knox County school children outside the Town of Farragut are being told to relocate to other schools to better utilize school facilities, while HVHS and Karns High, built to hold 2100 students each, are slated to open in '08 with just 1347 and 1473 students, respectively?

Will we ask why these two schools may operate at 65 or 70% capacity in '08, while every other school population in the county must be shifted in the name of efficiency?

MJ's picture

Not sure on Karns' excuse,

Not sure on Karns' excuse, but won't HVHS be without any seniors in '08? I also believe that due to geographic reasoning the most growth should be in the Hardin Valley zoning area. Is there really much more room for Farragut's current zoning area to grow much more than it's present numbers? Maybe a bit more, but they seem to be close to their cap, as far as room for new development in that area of Knox county.

Again, I'm no expert on this, just a casual observation of looking at the maps. I'm sure someone with more knowledge than myself can elaborate, maybe even someone who lives in West Knox?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

We've got their numbers

MJ: "Is there really much more room for Farragut's current zoning area to grow much more than it's present numbers?"

The school board's rezoning proposal says "yes," MJ. Per the "High School Enrollment Projections" chart linked at the N-S site last week, given the proposal's undue concern for Town of Farragut boundaries, the projection for Farragut High is that it will open in 2008 with 1431 students and grow to 2380 students over the next 8 years, quickly becoming overcrowded again.

Meanwhile, the systemwide rezoning proposal would allow both HVHS and Karns High to operate in 2008 at 2/3 capacity, *after* pulling other school populations like West and Powell into west Knox County.

Furthermore, the proposal would result in both HVHS and Karns High, capable of serving 2100 each, remaining underutilized even eight years later, in 2016. At that time, the schools would serve only 1404 and 1783 respectively.

Note that this underutilization would exist even *after* pulling other school populations into west Knox County and *after* students not "grandfathered" begin attending HVHS and Karns High.

So again, why would West and Powell communities be shattered in the name of increased efficiency, while HVHS and Karns High communites would not be held to the same efficiency standard, either initially or over the next eight years?

MJ's picture

Tamara, I'm not arguing that

Tamara, I'm not arguing that the school board's proposal doesn't give those numbers, but I definitely question the numbers. Look at the map I linked before and tell me where in the proposed new FHS zoning is there room for a lot of population growth. Farragut isn't really known for it's high density living arrangements, any new development, in the relatively small area left to work with there, is likely to be fairly large lots and pretty good sized homes with not very big families living in them. Where Hardin Valley and Karns look to be the only zoned areas with room for growth in the western part of the county (drive north on Pelissippi from I-40 right now and you can see the land being cleared for development).

No developer or official population projecter here, I'm just looking at the county's map and don't see how those numbers are possible. Can someone please explain how they are possible and, more importantly, why?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


MJ: "No developer or official population projecter here, I'm just looking at the county's map and don't see how those numbers are possible. Can someone please explain how they are possible and, more importantly, why?"

Sorry not to have provided link, MJ, but "High School Enrollment Projections" chart was prepared by MPC and linked at N-S site on Monday, April 16 (maybe earlier, too). Likely still at N-S site? If so, share?

Focus on 2016: Farragut High overcrowded at nearly 2400, HVHS and Karns High grossly underutilized for first eight years (after rezoning east-lying pops into their schools and after kids not grandfathered begin arriving in their schools). Not acceptable!

Gone, now.

MJ's picture

I found this MPC document on

I found this MPC document on growth in relation to the new high school, but it's from Nov. 2006 which is from well before the current rezoning plan was released, so the numbers are obviously not going to match per zone.

Some interesting parts in this though:

- It gives examples of the 3 biggest developments currently underway in the county, one is in the Farragut Zone (Beacon Park), one was Farragut and would be Bearden under the proposed plan (Northshore Town Center) and the 3rd is in the Hardin Valley zone (Covered Bridge). The MPC estimate has Farragut getting the most potential students of the 3 though.
- The map of new development from 2000-Oct. 2006 is also intesting. The gaps are filling in in the SW sector of the county. The trend has obviously been SW the past 6 years, but where will it be the next 6 years?

MJ's picture

I found the MPC document

I found the MPC document Tamara referenced from the KNS also. The projections here show what seems like a suspect jump from years 2014-2015 to years 2016-2017 at Farragut. The 290 kid jump seems to be higher than any previous projected jump and almost everywhere else (besides Karns) is shown dropping or with very modest growth. I wonder what facilitated that? Is 2nd or 3rd grade that crowded right now in Farragut? Maybe we ought to be using Hardin Valley High to hold those elementary kids next year?

In all seriousness, how can those figures for 8-10 years out be trusted?

CathyMcCaughan's picture

no upperclasses at HVHS

If we believe our school board, HVHS won't have Juniors OR Seniors. Only students who are currently in 7th grade or younger are affected by the proposed zones. However, with middle and elementary re-zoning next, there is still a potential for a lot of children being moved.

DMD's picture

The "Real" Numbers

Knox Insider 007 asked about the real number coming out of Farragut High School. It is 648: 264 to Hardin Valley and 384 to Bearden. It seems the reason they did this was to try to keep the West Valley Middle School kids together flowing into Bearden, although they didn't complete the job. If I were a West Valley parent whose kids are still zoned to Farragut instead of Bearden, I'd be asking why my child has to be in that tiny percentage of kids split from their classmates. I realize there is a rezoning of the lower schools coming, but I sure don't see room at Farragut Primary/Intermediate/Middle to shift them over into that feeder school pattern. I think the real issue here should be feeder schools and keeping middle schools either entirely together or at worst a 60/40 split so that kids aren't suddenly having to start completely over making friends in the 9th grade.

ljr's picture

school rezoning

Does anyone know why the Karns addition went ahead anyway?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Just me

ljr: "Does anyone know why the Karns addition went ahead anyway?"

Because I was the only person in Knox County to oppose it and 50 Karns parents spoke against me.

Now they want me to move into it, so that they may achieve 65% capacity in 2008 and maybe 70% capacity by 2016.

AML's picture

yes, more farragut kids

yes, more farragut kids would be moved to bearden that to the new hardin valley school, built to stop overcrowding. that just doesn't seem to make sense. as far as middle schools all feeding into one high school, that just isn't feasible. before west valley middle, kids at farraugt middle went to farragut (most of them) and bearden. if the administration starts zoning for high schools based on middle schools, they are doing in backwards, in my opinion.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Does anyone have data on how

Does anyone have data on how accurate MPC has been in the past with their predictions? I still want to know if anyone has info on the change in travel distance and times for students.

CL's picture

Cathy, I think that the

Cathy, I think that the projections for the Karns area are low. Even with the high projection, the MPC is expecting an increase of 20-30 a year for Karns and HVHS. Between last year and this year, enrollment at Karns went from 1892 to 2018. The year before that, enrollment at Karns was 1708.

Pamela Treacy's picture

MPC numbers show that after

MPC numbers show that after the rezoning Hardin Valley will only have internal growth of 100 people from 2008 to 2016. If you drive in Hardin Valley, it hard to believe that could be true. The elementary school is already at 830 kids with a capactiy of 900.

The flaw in the MPC formula is that is uses past growth rate to determine future growth. If you take an area like Hardin Valley that was NOT rapidly growing the last 20 years, it doesn't accurately reflect the current activity. We pointed this out to the school board several times. We are concerned about ping pong zoning that will not last ten years as this plan hopes to achieve.

We also suggested that they turn the high school into half middle school and half high school. If you don't move all the children west from Powell and Karns, this is a viable option. Hardin Valley's actually h.s. student population is 350. Cedar Bluff used to be part of Farragut a few years back -- but jumped to Karns, now proposed for HVHS is 350 kids. That is 700 students with good feeder school alighment. Add the other children in the Hardin Valley Elementary zone across Pellissippi and you could make this work.

Just trying to be solution based. Tamara I have some comments to your previous post but running out of time.

One point I like to make about Karns addition-- most people in Farragut didn't even know about the Karns addition and were told it was for commons areas and not about classrooms.

We need better communication on the issues in this town.
I am shocked to find many people thought the zone was approved last December.

R. Neal's picture

MPC numbers show that after

MPC numbers show that after the rezoning Hardin Valley will only have internal growth of 100 people from 2008 to 2016. If you drive in Hardin Valley, it hard to believe that could be true. The elementary school is already at 830 kids with a capactiy of 900.

Also, how does the Orange Route factor in once it's built?

Ennui's picture

Very good question there,

Very good question there, almost forgot about the Orange Route.

CL's picture

Orange route

I thought about that too. Last I heard, there will not be an exit at Hardin Valley Rd.

Rachel's picture

No exit at Hardin Valley.

No exit at Hardin Valley. If there were going to be an exit, that would definitely affect #s. Without it, it's really hard to tell.

There is an exit at Pellissippi.

CL's picture

Orange Route

Here's a link to the map page for the Orange Route.


I think that the plan for now is to have 2 exits. One at Clinton Hwy and the other at Pellissippi Pkwy. I looked at a couple of the maps and there is a lot of undeveloped land at the Pellissippi Pkwy exit.

ljr's picture

No exit at Hardin Valley.

I'm willing to bet real $$$ there'll be an exit at Hardin Valley now that there's a high school, and I don't even play the lottery.

dcrispy2112's picture

orange route+Ragsdale=new school

Is their a conection between the orange route and the "need" for a new school? Maybe,just maybe our powers that be needed to shore up the push for the orange route to validate their positions.Pardon my ignorance but if farragut is sending less than 300 kids to hvhs did we really need to spend 50 million dollars on a new school? I believe the Clayton family of fine mobile homes could've donated a few double wides to aleiviate this overcrowding.By the way,what's up with the orange route being a toll road? These guys are slicker than a minner's(that's minnow's)d..k

CL's picture

IIRC, the main problem with

IIRC, the main problem with expanding Farragut was a lack of land. Without room to expand, the other option would be a new school.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Before the "Superkroger", we

Before the "Superkroger", we used to joke that Farragut should buy the old K-Mart and build a crosswalk over Kingston Pike.

Pamela Treacy's picture

KMART in Farragut

We didn't joke. We made that suggestion to the school board. Our suggestion was to make that a kindergarten center, then shift all the grades back -- making Farrgut High School 10-12. FMS would have been 7-9 etc. We thought that was more economical.

But the county met and did a STUDY that said a new high school was the best solution. Then the school board picked the land for Hardin Valley.

Someone told me this has been going on for 20 years. The goal was to have a new high school in the norhtshore/pellissippi area for 2004. AND there was a need for a new school in Hardin Valley to be ready for 2010. If anyone has sources or history on this, please pass them on.

The main reason children are moving east to to follow feeder schools. Most of the kids that feed into Farragut from West Valley are staying with West Valley kids and going to Bearden.

Dr. Mullins needs to explain the feeder school logic behind this proposal. Worst yet, they have not given any information if what the new middle and elementary schools look like after this proposal is accepted. You really can't evaluate one with out the other.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Slow down

I agree that there are a lot of issues that could be/should be addressed before jumping on board this rezoning plan, PT. They should wait on recommendations from the Magnet School Task Force, for one, as well as pin down MPC on those projections for Farragut, HVHS, and Karns. Drop-out rates at A-E and Fulton might get more attention if we move at a slower pace, too, and I confess Stooks's thought last night to leave Powell's eastern and western boundaries intact would keep me, personally, where I believe I belong, but too little conversation followed about either the potential for overcrowding here in Powell (given the influx still recommended from our southern boundary), or the even lower projected enrollment that decision would leave at Karns.

Truly, they need to slow down and make sure this doesn't become just another squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease proposal. Since the capital plan, focused just on maintenance needs this year, has already been adopted, where does any impetus for this rush come from?

I was hugely pleased that Indya suggested just that slower, more participatory approach, in a process that might also include some parents attuned to systemwide concerns. Too bad Robert Bratton disented, but maybe?

(Gone now.)

Rachel's picture

I must say I was

I must say I was disappointed in the part of last night's meeting I saw on television. I'm sure they picked the most "exciting" parts to show - conflict over substance, any day - but I thought the yelling, booing, etc. from the audience was inappropriate and a poor model for the children the adults were supposedly concerned about.

CL's picture

Here are a couple of

Here are a couple of interesting numbers that I found on Hornback's blog. The Lindsey proposal sent about 400 from Karns to HVHS. This new proposal has 963 Karns students going to HVHS.

Now Farragut is only sending 264 students to HVHS. They are sending a bunch to Bearden so that Bearden can sent a bunch to HVHS.

I think Buttry hit the nail on the head last night about why parents don't want their kids going to HVHS. The school board is trying to sell these parents a pig in a poke. They haven't made any decisions about what will be offered at the school in the way of classes and programs.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Deakins' proposal last night

Thomas Deakins proposed an amendment to the plan last night that two additional Farragut-area subdivisions be exempted from the rezoning to HVHS, which would reduce the number transferred out from 264 to around 175.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Rachel & CL

Rachel: "...I thought the yelling, booing, etc. from the audience was inappropriate..."

Rachel, I was one of those "yellers" and "booers" there last night, myself! Given the lack of any public forum in the meeting, and given the very short time frame in which the public may respond to the SB's proposal, I think what you saw was an attempt from the audience to quickly communicate to the whole SB those points of particular importance to attendees.

For instance, the crowd erupted in applause at board member's comments in support of preserving longstanding communities and at Indya's suggestion of forming a task force to include parents. Conversely, we booed Robert Bratton's assertion that everybody would just get over it.

For my own part, I don't mind conceding that I yelled and booed for the benefit of the media, too! I still wonder if childless people or those parents who *imagine* they're not affected (just because they're not being rezoned) really understand what a "first" this proposal is for the school system, and how adopting either this model for process or this particular rezoning plan will have lasting consequences. I have concerns on both bases.

CL: "I think Buttry hit the nail on the head last night about why parents don't want their kids going to HVHS. The school board is trying to sell these parents a pig in a poke. They haven't made any decisions about what will be offered at the school in the way of classes and programs."

I couldn't agree more, CL, and that's also a big reason the board should wait for the recommendations from the Magnet School Task Force, which might well be looking for buildings! I keep asking, with the capital plan budget already in place (because only maintenance expenditures, no big projects, were adopted), what's the rush?

bwallace's picture

More Zoning Plans to come......

What no one seems to be saying is that this is the first of three rezoning proposals. The Knox County web site says, "The Board also asked for a comprehensive middle and elementary school zoning plan to be developed following completion of the comprehensive high school zoning action.". So, with all the talk of feeder school alignment in the presentation on Wednesday, if parents think their elementary and middle school children will not be affected if this plan gets pushed through should think again. If you look at the maps for the current elementary and middle school zones you will quickly see if the current proposed changes for the high school go through that these will be significantly change as well. I am parent from the proposed rezone area of East Powell to Central, if this change is made the likelihood my child would remain zoned for Brickey to Powell Middle is slim to none. I am sure my child would more than likely be zoned to Sterchi to Gresham Middle. I understand that the high school zone is the first battle but everyone that thinks that their children in elementary and middle will not be affected for years come should look at all the maps and think again. Just food for thought….

Upset at Rezoning's picture

"Now Farragut is only

"Now Farragut is only sending 264 students to HVHS. They are sending a bunch to Bearden so that Bearden can sent a bunch to HVHS."

Lets not forget how Bearden is sending a lot more of their kids to West to allow Farragut kids to go to Bearden. Why, must my kids and all their friends be condemned to a school that is not performing for the students they currently have?

Too much of the conversations that I’ve read have centered around Farragut and Powell not wanting to be broken up or how far their kids will have to travel to school or how the roads are too narrow. I can understand not wanting to be broken up, that is a fair concern. But more then Farragut and Powell kids are having their travel time increased. As for narrow roads, well driving to school is a privilege not a right.

Instead we should all be more concerned how kids from better performing schools are being sent to lessor performing schools (not just Bearden to West). Is it really just to “use the resources we have at hand”? Not likely since those resources can’t even get the job done now. More then likely it’s an attempt to raise the test scores at those schools to improve the counties standing with NCLB. A short sighted and short-term fix. If we don’t address the underlying problems, then in a few years we will be right back where we began.

Rezoning is necessary, we have a new school and seats need to be filled, I can understand that. I don’t agree with where the new school was built or why, that can’t be changed. But to force kids (mine or anyone else’s) to schools that can’t even manage the kids they have, that is not right.

Pamela Treacy's picture

Bearden Forum

I just got home at 11:00 from the Bearden forum. It started at 7 PM. While Bearden is not my community, I sincerely wanted to know how they feel. I learned everyone in Knox County feels their community is being torn apart.

While this is not easy to solve, it's good that we can identify the problem. We can't point fingers at each other. But we can point figures at the school board who voted to purchase land in the wrong place. Now everyone has to deal with the problem. I don't want to sound nasty, but it was a majority of the 9 members who made this happen. If the other school board members voted thinking it would be only the 5th and 6th district problem, they are getting payback. The crowd reemed Dan Murphy tonight.

If I recall correctly, Karen Carson was the only board member who told them this was the wrong location. I believe that Mayor Ragsdale told the board that as well.

With the recent events in Blacksburg, I hate to see us Knox Countians blaming each other.

Since I am from Farragut, you really don't care or want to listen to what I have to say, but I am going to say it anyway.

We never asked for a new high school. We asked for a solution to overcrowding. Instead of a viable solution, we got a new high school built in what was the Karns High School district.

I have heard everyone around the county talk about safety and transportation issues as while as being moved out of their community. But when we say those things -- we just get dismissed.

I don't consider myself rich. My dad worked two jobs to put us through four kids through college. My mom worked in a deli. I worked and paid half my college education.

Farragut was the choice for me because of the reputation for the schools and that is was a town. Now I am demonized as a rich person with no morals.

This has to stop. Think of the hatered that motivated that kid in Blackburg.


jb's picture

Bearden For

People are really hurting. Everyone feels a sense of community, whether or not you have been here 1 year or 30 years. People move to an area because of the schools. Once you move, you work to be involved, volunteering getting to know each other etc. We have only been here for 1 year 9 months. Yet I feel my family has been involved and also embraced by the community. When I go to a sporting event, band event I know people and they know my kids. I feel like I can count on people to watch out for my kids as I will for theirs. We all work together for a common goal, to better our community and keep our kids safe. This is what I was hearing at the Bearden forum tonight. As a community we all look out for each other. Tearing the fabric of the communities will be so detrimental to everyone, whether or not you have a child in school.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

My husband went to the

My husband went to the Bearden forum while I was taping Inside TN. As I walked in to the forum an hour after it started, people were walking out angrily shaking their heads. "Their minds were already made up. They aren't listening to us. They don't care what we want." Dan Murphy is going to vote yes on this rezoning. Focus on communicating with the school board members who care what their constituents want. I'd like to hear how Cedar Bluff and Chilhowee's forums went.

Pamela Treacy's picture

Middle Schools and Elementary Schools


You are right on the mark. They can't tell us the logic for the high school zones because it is based on the plans they have for the middle school and elmentary zones. That can't us those because they have not been approved by the school board.

Does the KCSB have this backward?

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Last night, they said "You

Last night, they said "You ALWAYS start with the end goal and work your way backwards when planning."

djuggler's picture

He even gave it a label

He even gave it a label saying "It's called Backwards planning." I'll second that. Everything about this plan is ass backwards.

knoxnative's picture

Chilhowee Meeting

The Chilhowee meeting was polite but contentious also. It was advertised as a Sam Anderson event, but Jim Williams was there as well. Both were asked if they would please vote no on the current rezoning proposal. Sam said he was going to listen to what people had to say, do some "research" and then do what he thought was best for the kids. He said if we didn't like it, we shouldn't vote for him. Jim Williams said he was about 60% for and 40% against, but didn't say why.

As I said in a post in a different thread, the main concern among parents both black and white was that they didn't want their children moved to the poorest performing school in the system. They asked what was the plan to fix Austin-East and there was no answer. Very little additional money in the budget for the proposed influx of kids. One parent had a copy of the magnet school report prepared by UT which basically said the magnet program was a failure and had some recommendations for fixing it, none of which included zoning more kids into the school. There is a magnet school task force that has been working on the problem, but their recommendations haven't been released.

The parents said to fix A-E or at least come up with a workable plan to fix A-E, THEN talk about zoning their kids there.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Cathy & djuggler

I'm guessing that they're working backward on the plan because a high school is the most expensive of school facilities to build, so their assumption is that the number of high schools to be worked into the plan is 13.

Yes, that approach would seem to really leave them stuck WRT establishing logical feeder patterns among middle/elementary schools.

FYI, I just phoned PT, who's really ticking me off lately, as I'm sure I am her. We're going to tootle around Farragut together one day early next week, to talk roads and feeder patterns.

We've got some disconnect between us, but if we can commit to this kind of process as disagreeable neighbors, I really, really think this whole darn proposal should be ditched and a new process begun, that works like the one PT and I are committed to launching.

Sure hope some school board members are lurking here...

jb's picture

I wish the school board and

I wish the school board and administration would take the time to drive around to see the routes as well as see the disconnections they are creating with some of their proposed zones.

A community forum is a good start, but we really need ongoing dialogue within the entire district to prevent this from happening again. We need to know and try to understand issues in the entire community not just our little piece of the pie.

Pamela Treacy's picture

Backwards Planning

Even though they said you have to work backwards you still have to work through the whole process so the community can understand the logic behind the moves. My point is that they know the options they want to take for elementary and middle, but they are not telling us what they plan to propose. If they did, we, as an intelligent community, could better understand. I am NOT saying this is the right plan. But I would love to understand their logic. I loved the comments the one gentleman asked about clarifying if the powerpoint presentation was the plan. When he learned it was the written plan, he asked where is the data that supports this. Wouldn't you give that to the school board. The scary part here is that this group probably spends more time looking at data than most of our elected officials.

Tamara, I must be clueless. I thought we had a good conversation. For you, the emotion is even greater than it could ever be for me. Your four generation connection to Powell can not be matched. I am glad that you are open to a visit to our side of town.

Last, I made a post somewhere that is inaccurate. I am trying to find the voting record for the School Board decision on the land. I think I said that Karen voted it down. But I am not sure that is correct. I do know that Karen was the voice of reason who desparately tried to tell the board that it was in the wrong location for the next high school. If anyone remembers the month and year, please respond. I want to know how each board member voted.

MrVolunteer's picture

Chilhowee Intermediate School Forum Meeting Last Night

The 3-hour meeting at Chilhowee Intermediate School last night was well-attended by parents from the Carter, Gibbs, Fulton, and Austin-East high school districts of Knox County. No one there was happy at all with the proposed rezonings.

One elderly black man started off by saying that the students at Carter High had demonstrated that they didn't want to associated with Austin-East students in the past, and he was wondering why the school superintendent is proposing that they try to force students who are now attending Carter, Gibbs, and Fulton to go to Austin-East now.

MPC Commissioner Mose Lobetti and attorney Nick Della Volpe, from Town Hall East, both asked the question of why are neighborhoods being split up. Many asked why Holston Hills, one of the 80-year-old historic neighborhoods in Knoxville, is being picked on again. They just want to be left alone and are happy with the status quo.

None of the residents have asked for this to happen. The school administration is simply admitting that Austin-East is not a viable school now. Dr. Thomas, the assistant superintendent, said that is the case. The entire magnet school concept is broken and a dismal failure.

Despite the fact that any child in the entire county can go to Austin-East under the magnet school plan, and that they can also receive taxpayer-funded transportation to go there, no matter how far away they live from it, it is losing students. Some of the course offerings that were supposed to be offered only at the magnet school are being offered by other schools in the county, which exacerbates the problem.

A poll was taken of the crowd in attendance, and 100% of them voted that there be no changes made whatsoever to these districts in Northeast Knoxville and Knox County. Another poll was taken, and not one parent said they would send their child to Austin-East. This included many black parents in attendance, whose children go to Carter, Fulton, and Gibbs now. Even the minority children going to those high schools are refusing to go to Austin-East.

Most everyone agreed that the academics simply aren't working at Austin-East. The students going there chronically underperform every other high school in the county in virtually every subject area, according to state statistics.

The concept of open zoning was broached, which is now being done in Williamson County, allowing anyone to go to any school they choose. This was once the case in Knox County, too. There is no reason why it can't be done again.

Only a paltry $6,000 is proposed to be added to the magnet school budget next year, meaning that these problems will continue. The school board isn't willing to put money into a new high school on the east side of town in a better neighborhood like they were on the west side.

Black and white parents alike said they would either move out of the area into the county or home school their children or send them to private or Christian schools in the area before they will send their kids to Austin-East. This was a point that was made over and over again.

The school board should not be in the business of socially re-engineering the neighborhoods. Some have suggested that the reason for all of this is that it is designed to devalue properties in Holston Hills, Chilhowee Hills, and Spring Hill, in order to make those nice homes more affordable for minorities.

One parent asked why everything had to be dragged down to the lowest common denominator. He likened the proposed changes in the area to trying to put out a raging housefire with a garden hose. It is clear that trying to send more white kids to Austin-East won't solve that school's problems.

One suggestion that was being made was that Austin-East, since it is a magnet school that can be attended by everyone in the county, not have a zone at all. This is the way it is done with many magnet schools nationally. The students in the current Austin-East district would be disbursed to the zones around it, Fulton, Gibbs, Carter, South-Doyle, and West, with the choice to go either to the one of those five that is closest to them or continuing to go to Austin-East.

Another is to close Austin-East as a traditional high school and make it either a middle school, as was done with Holston a few years ago, or turn it into a trade or technical school for students who don't want to attend college, very much like Stair Tech was in Knoxville many years ago. There is a true market for a school that would focus on teaching students a trade, rather than preparing them for college. With all of the trade and service industry jobs that are growing, that is a solution that should be considered for Austin-East.

One concern is that Carter High will lose course offerings by losing students. One high school shouldn't suffer at the expense of trying to prop up another failed one, Austin-East. In fact, many of the present students at Austin-East would rather go elsewhere and that would help desegregate the entire high school system more if they were allowed to do so.

The consensus was that times have changed, and that keeping a school in a neighborhood that is riddled with crime simply doesn't make sense. The grocery at Five Points failed due to lack of patronage. Similarly, Austin-East is failing due to people leaving the neighborhood, with homes and businesses being boarded up.

There is no overcrowding issue in these zones and districts like there is in Farragut and West Knox County. The concerns that parents have on the west end, while valid, aren't nearly as serious as the concerns of those of us on the east side of town. The parents on the west end are just upset at having to have their children attend one great school versus another great school.

The parents on the east end however, are being forced to have their children leave marginal schools to attend the worst school in the county. If parents on the west end were being faced with that prospect, there would be a revolt.

It is the hope of the parents on the east side that they will get relief from the school board members who represent those west, north, and south districts. They are getting little sympathy from their own representatives, Sam Anderson and Jim Williams, both of whom indicated they are in favor of the proposed changes, with some reservations and modifications.

It was the consensus of everyone in attendance that moving students around among districts and zones with low populations anyway is simply not the solution. One person opined that "when you mess with the schools, you mess with the community and neighborhood in general." Good neighborhoods depend on good schools.

It is time for the school administration and the school board to close such schools that don't provide that environment and those that are underperforming. Sending those students to better schools will help raise the academic performance of those students now attending those poor schools as well.

Sam Anderson seems to be wedded to the concept of expanding the A-E zone as the answer. However, that will NOT solve the problem. No new students will actually attend A-E, despite having all this land area rezoned from Carter, Gibbs, & Fulton. It will simply make people take their kids out of public schools altogether or move into the Gibbs or Carter zones, which will necessitate an even further widening of the A-E zone to prop it up or attempt to make it viable.

As Indya Kincannon, who favors open zoning, says, keeping all magnet school zones to a minimum is the way to go rather than expanding them. The whole idea of a magnet school is that it doesn't need a neighborhood from which to draw if its programs are drawing students to it like it is supposed to be.

The fact is, however, that the neighborhood in which A-E is located is a virtual lost cause & the sooner the school board realizes that the better. By compressing rather than expanding the A-E zone, there is at least hope that the Magnolia Avenue corridor MIGHT be able to be revitalized. Otherwise, there is no such hope. Things will just continue to deteriorate & spiral out of control.

One of the big criticisms of why the magnet school concept isn't working was that other high schools offer the same enriched curriculum & advanced placement programs that A-E does. If you truly want A-E to work as a magnet school, then those programs will have to be terminated at all other county high schools.

Again, there will be NO more involved parents at A-E by this rezoning. Remember, a show of hands was asked for about who among those in attendance at the forum at Chilhowee last night would send their kids to A-E. Not one hand went up, & there were plenty of blacks in attendance as well as whites. One black mother said her son came home in tears when he heard at Gibbs High that he will be zoned to go to A-E. She lives in Chilhowee Hills. The parents will either home school, send to private or Christian schools, or move out of the area. This will be a tragedy that will devalue prime real estate & cause crime to expand east & north in Knoxville toward East Towne Mall, where the city & county are trying to attract quality businesses.

Rachel's picture

Some have suggested that the

Some have suggested that the reason for all of this is that it is designed to devalue properties in Holston Hills, Chilhowee Hills, and Spring Hill, in order to make those nice homes more affordable for minorities.

I found most of your post interesting and informative. This particular paragraph, however, is an example of the sickening "some say" stuff you hear all over now.

Some may SAY just about anything, but the SB is too busy with real educational problems to be taking on affordable housing issues as well.

Also, why in the world are parents in east Knox County content to have their kids go to "marginal schools?" I'd have been raising hell about that a long time ago.

CathyMcCaughan's picture


I'm sorry Doug and I are such disagreeable neighbors Tamara. We don't expect Knox County schools to leave their shiny new school an empty box as a monument to bad planning. We accept that changes need to be made. We disagree with everything about this current proposal, from the way it was created, to the way it has been tossed to Knoxville as a band-aid to treat all of the school system's woes. Whatever we did to annoy you so, I'm sorry.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Not you, Cathy

It's PT and I who have squabbled, as I'm frustrated to think that Farragut's reluctance to move more than 175 students (per Deakins' proposal Tuesday) into HVHS is driving this massive rezoning.

Like I said, PT and I are going for a drive early next week, looking at feeder school patterns and routes. You and Doug are welcome to come along (if you don't mind, PT).

I'll phone when my son and I return from Cub Scout camp Sunday aft. Let's roll up our sleeves.

(Gone now.)

ljr's picture


In addition to Monday's SB meeting, I have attended several of the community meetings in different areas. The impression I get is that we all have a lot is common regarding the way this whole rezoning has been pitched and sold to us along the way and that this latest proposal will destroy several communities throughout the county.
Tamara, PT, Doug, and Cathy: you are to be commended for your willingness to come together and for trying to understand this situation as a whole, so that a more community centered solution can be found. I trust that you all can come up with a better plan than this by far. I only hope you can before the SB votes in their plan that causes more problems than it solves.

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