Helping to make Knox County Board of Education’s vote unanimous to rezone high school students from a handful of subdivisions in the Town of Farragut’s northwest quadrant — zoned back to Farragut High School instead of Hardin Valley Academy — Susan Horn, District 5 Board representative, said its a win-win situation.
“This should be a solution that really should satisfy all the families,” Horn said.
“As I was knocking on doors when I was running for office, when I was in those neighborhoods — including Saddleridge, Sedgefield and Fox Run [subdivisions] — I heard time and again … many, many of those people wanted those neighborhoods zoned back to Farragut,” she added.
With children in this quadrant attending Farragut public schools from kindergarten through eighth-grade, Horn said, “I think it’s because they are part of the Farragut community” about why so many parents wanted to be zoned back to FHS. “Their kids have gone to Farragut Primary, Intermediate and Middle schools. And they’re on the same sports teams.”
However, “There is a very lenient grandfathering clause in the new zoning policy,” Horn said, which allows those northwest sector families who have a teenager currently attending HVA to remain there, if they choose.
Moreover, if a given student in the northwest sector would be a sophomore, junior or senior at HVA in a given school year and has a sibling who would be a freshman that same school year, that younger student has the option to attend HVA with his older sibling and remain at that school all four years.
“The point of the grandfathering is to ease the burden on parents so they don’t end up with kids at two different schools,” Horn said.
If this isn’t the case, with no older siblings at HVA and the affected Farragut subdivision family has a rising eighth-grader wishing to go to HVA nonetheless, Horn said, “They would have to apply for a transfer” with Knox County Schools.
Louise Povlin, Town of Farragut Ward I [North] Alderman, lives in Fox Run subdivision in the affected northwest sector.
An outspoken advocate of rezoning the sector back to FHS, Povlin has children who have graduated from both schools.
“My oldest son graduated from HVA in 2015; my middle son attended HVA his freshman year then transferred to FHS and graduated from FHS in 2017,” she said. “My youngest is a sophomore at FHS.
“I am relieved that there is a generous grandfathering policy in place so families who have dedicated their time, talents and energies to help make HVA an excellent school may remain there,” Povlin added.
“Personally, I know many families who, when that rezoning occurred and their children were zoned to Hardin Valley Academy, they went to Hardin Valley and they really invested in that school,” Horn said.
One negative tradeoff to the grandfathering: “They won’t have busing to Hardin Valley,” Horn said.
As for numbers, Horn said, “This year there were 168 high school students in that area — 95 are at HVA and 73 are at FHS.”
Horn said rezoning talk “began when the middle school zoning meetings happened for the new Hardin Valley Middle School,” which is set to open next August.
“With the new Hardin Valley Middle School rezoning taking effect at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year and the fact that HVA is beyond its maximum capacity, this was an appropriate time to reconsider the 2007 rezoning decision,” Povlin said.
”Not only does this rezoning bring most of our Town back together, it resolves the ongoing issue of the underutilization of Farragut High School as well. For the better part of the last decade … this underutilization has negatively impacted Farragut High School.”
Speaking with and listening to speeches by Russ Oaks, Knox County Schools chief operating officer, Horn said, “Farragut [High School’s campus] has room now” to hold a larger enrollment, “and there’s also a lot of new neighborhoods being built in Hardin Valley.”