Knox County education leaders discuss rezoning with parents and community

Jan. 10, 2017: Gibbs and Hardin Valley Middle Schools are to open in August 2018, impacting zoning for 11 existing Knox County middle schools.

Knox County School leaders continued a series of meetings with community members Tuesday night to discuss the future of rezoning for Knox County middle schools and how it could impact families.

Gibbs and Hardin Valley Middle School are planned to open in August 20-18. The new schools will change attendance areas for 11 existing schools.

More than 70 people showed up to hear from Knox County School leaders what rezoning means for the Gibbs community.

More: KCS: New middle school will change school enrollment zoning

After a presentation the floor opened to community concerns. Parents and community members shared their biggest worry - busing students and kids changing schools.

"These are real human beings and we want to respect that and make sure we aren't pulling families apart,” said Interim superintendent Buzz Thomas, describing the complexity of rezoning schools in the district.

Thomas says families will be allowed to request a transfer to move a child or keep a child in their current school.

Halls, Gresham and Carter are three schools in the Gibbs community that are overpopulated. It's the school district's goal to shuffle students and fix this issue, without creating new ones by dividing students along racial or economic boundaries.

"Our school board and our community have been very frank and honest about the fact that there have been disparities based on race and economic status and disability,” said Thomas.

Previous: Second zoning meeting discusses new Gibbs Middle School

How the school district plans to move those students is one issue people want more information on.

"The issue of transportation to and from that community is the primary concern because you have students who live in east Knoxville, which is 45 minutes away, how do you get them to that school safely?” asked Knox County Commissioner Evelyn Gill.

For some parents tonight isn't all bad news.

"It may actually be where kids have the opportunity to move closer to their community school as opposed to being bused further away,” said South Doyle Middle School parent Matt Hull.

Related: Renderings released for Gibbs and Hardin Valley Middle Schools

Many learned that the school district does aim to keep the community schools feeling that Knox County has developed.

“First and foremost, people want community schools, if their children can walk to school make sure they can still walk to school,” said Thomas.

And that across the region people want the same things.

“Most parents most communities want the same thing -- good schools in their neighborhoods and their communities,” said Rev. Dr. John Butler.

Two more rezoning meetings will take place before the end of the month.

Next Tuesday’s meeting will be at Hardin Valley Elementary for the Hardin Valley Middle School Project. The following Tuesday the meeting will move to Holston Middle School to talk about the new Gibbs Middle School. Both meetings will start at 6 p.m.

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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