Construction of the new Gibbs and Hardin Valley middle schools has been under way for months, but the biggest project for school officials seems to be building confidence in parents that the new zoning boundaries will be the best thing for the community and students.
Tuesday night, around 50 parents gathered at Holston Middle School to voice their opinions on the draft rezoning plan released by Knox County Schools leaders in February.
"What we heard are people are very concerned about where their kids go to school, and they should be, we love supportive parents, we love parents who support our schools,” said Rick Grubb, KCS director of transportation and enrollment.
Officials explained how the boundaries were drawn, saying they went around property lines so that they would be more efficient for buses, plus allow students in the same subdivision or development to go to the same school.
"Rezoning is always a challenge, moving students, opening new schools, challenge to students, parents and staff," said incoming KCS Superintendent Bob Thomas.
"We hope to go back to our plans again, and if we can make some adjustments or tweaks. Not in all cases will we be able to do it, I felt what we heard tonight was valuable input for us," Thomas said.
Addressing the rezoning plans moving forward will be a top priority Thomas, who will take office on Thursday given the Knox County Board of Education votes to approve his contract during their meeting Wednesday night.
While many parents voiced frustration with the rezoning plan, parent and teacher Karen Walker offered encouragement, and said the best approach is to embrace the change with positivity.
“That builds in that resiliency in our children, adjusting to change, communing with people in your area,” said Walker.
Her advice to parents struggling, is to - when the time comes - get involved.
"Maybe get involved with PTA, connect with parents and talk with your kids to help with the transition, come in with fresh perspective,’ said Walker.
KCS officials will host another meeting on the rezoning plan next Tuesday, April 11 at Hardin Valley Academy beginning at 6 p.m.