FIS 130 to new school ‘not in stone’

Given that a few dozen parents from communities near Hardin Valley said they were unhappy their children aren’t zoned, in a preliminary outline, for the new Hardin Valley Middle School beginning in August 2018, the zoning fate of 130 Farragut Intermediate School students tentatively set to attend the new school could change.

During the latest and final open meeting to discuss zoning for HVMS, held Tuesday evening, April 11, at Hardin Valley Academy, about 45 parents were on hand.

Rick Grubb, director of Enrollment and Transportation for Knox County Schools, led the meeting in HVA auditorium. He emphasized that zones are not set in stone and that KCS is very interested in hearing parents’ opinions.

“We want to impact as few families as we can and get accomplished what we need to get accomplished,” he said early in the meeting.

With so many other communities wanting to be rezoned for the new school, is there any chance that school officials will decide to zone the 130 FIS children to Farragut Middle?

“We did a lot of listening to parents in the last two meetings and are now in the process of looking at our original rezoning proposal to see if it's possible to make any changes,” Abbey Harris, public affairs specialist for the school system, stated in an e-mail Wednesday, April 12. “We can't specifically speak to what ultimately will or won't happen to students in the Farragut area at this time.”

“The problem is fitting all the [potential] students into a 1,200-student building,” Grubb said.

While some of the parents on hand said they were unhappy their children wouldn’t be zoned for Hardin Valley Academy, Grubb drew the line.

“We’ve had some families in this area ask about high school rezoning. We’re not dealing with high school rezoning at this meeting,” he said.

Grubb invited parents to leave comments on a website set up just for this topic: He also said Knox County Schools accepts about 75 percent of all rezoning requests.

Harris also stated students are not allowed to transfer to a new school once they are zoned for another school. “They did that for Hardin Valley Academy, and it put them in a pretty bad predicament with overcrowding,” she stated. “That’s the only time in recent history that transfers to a new school have been allowed.”

“What is the projected enrollment of each middle school on opening day?” asked Karns resident and teacher Jimbo Crawford.

“Hardin Valley Middle School will open at 865 and has a projected 1,200 enrollment,” Grubb said.

“How long does it take a school to fill up?” Crawford asked.

“Our projection for five years down the road for Hardin Valley Middle School, is not going to correctly predict the growth. It will be much greater than the statistics will tell us.”

Crawford said that he had done some quick math and that he had a different opinion than the other parents present.

“About 433 8th graders will enter Hardin Valley Academy every year without transfers,” he said. “The Hardin Valley Middle School zone is too darn big right now. You’re going to have to rip the bandaid off in just a few years, and everybody’s clawing to get in here. It’s like this building [Hardin Valley Academy]. There’s hardly a goat farm left in Hardin Valley like it was when I grew up. We grow houses in Hardin Valley now.”