The construction of two new Knox County middle schools will require some "enrollment zoning changes" from existing schools, according to a letter sent to Knox County Schools parents Tuesday.

In the letter sent to middle school parents and staff, Interim Superintendent Buzz Thomas said the construction of a new Gibbs Middle School and Hardin Valley Middle School could affect as many as 11 of the district's 14 existing middle schools.

Middle school zones that could be affected when Gibbs Middle School opens include: Gresham, Halls, Holston, South Doyle, Vine and Whittle Springs. Schools zones that could be impacted when Hardin Valley Middle School opens include: Bearden, Cedar Bluff, Karns, Farragut and West Valley.

""The biggest burden will be relieved off of Karns Middle School, which right now has 1.500 students. They are literally busting at the seams, so this is good news for all of West Knoxville really," explained school board member Terry Hill.

The two new middle schools are expected to open in August 2018. Construction is already underway.

A rendering of the new Hardin Valley Middle School. 

The district is holding four community meetings regarding the enrollment zoning changes:

  • Nov. 28 at Farragut Middle School (Hardin Valley Middle)
  • Dec. 6 at Gibbs Elementary School (Gibbs Middle)
  • Jan. 17 at Hardin Valley Elementary School (Hardin Valley Middle)
  • Jan. 24 at Holston Middle School (Gibbs Middle)

A second series of meetings will be held in the spring to present a rezoning proposal, the letter said.

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In a second open letter Interim Superintendent Buzz Thomas says the school district is working with state officials to give teachers a 4% raise.

"We must not falter in our commitment to make Tennessee the fastest growing state in the nation when it comes to teacher pay and Knox County one of the 20 top-paying systems in the state," Thomas explains in his letter to the community.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is currently investigating the plans for the two new middle schools to look at possible discrimination tied to school closings or rezonings under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Construction of the two schools is budgeted around $58.4 million - $23.6 million for Gibbs and $34.8 million for Hardin Valley.