As the Hardin Valley community continues to grow, Hardin Valley Academy administrators, staff, students and parents are looking forward to an expansion at the school.
Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ proposed fiscal year 2023 budget includes $11 million to add 32 classrooms to the high school.
“They are adding another wing to Hardin Valley Academy,” said 6th District County Commissioner Terry Hill, who served as chairman and member of Knox County Board of Education from 2014 to 2020 with Hardin Valley residents among her constituents. “The land is there to do it. It will connect to the existing school; it will be two stories and 32 classrooms.”
“This is (an expansion) our community has needed,” said Betsy Henderson, Knox County Board of Education representative for District 6, which encompasses Hardin Valley schools.
Hill said the chances of the expansion appropriation and the entire budget becoming a reality are good.
“I’m only one vote of 11, but I suspect the Commission is very positive toward the mayor’s proposals this year,” Hill added. “(Parents, teachers and administrators) have been talking to me about that since I was on the school board.
“I would get a lot of feedback about large numbers of students in classrooms, overcrowding during class changes, that type of thing,” she added.
Henderson also has received similar feedback.
“I talk to parents, teachers, administration daily on a multitude of issues, and one of the issues that I do hear about is expanding our schools to fit the growth needs of our community,” she said. “I definitely think this expansion is needed.”
“The student population has grown every year,” Hill said, as HVA and Bearden have been the district two biggest high schools for the last few years.
She said the 2021-22 HVA enrollment is 1,980 while the projected enrollment for 2022-23 is 2,189.
“I think (overcrowding at HVA) has been an issue that has been on the forefront of people’s minds out here — both parents and administration — and our enrollment at Hardin Valley Academy is comparable to the enrollment of both Bearden and Farragut high schools, and their schools have more space for their students,” Henderson said.
“Every year, the (HVA) administration has been masterful in managing, but it was quickly coming to the point where it was going to be impossible to manage, given the continued growth and development that we have going on in Hardin Valley,” Hill said.
How the additional space will be used will be up to administrators, according to Henderson.
“But I think (principal) Dr. (Rob) Speas anticipates using the space for his freshmen academies,” she added. “I anticipate, since it’s for the freshmen academy, that it’s to alleviate growing pains that they already have at the school.”
“I’m not certain with how the administration is going to lay that out yet,” Hill said. “They may still be playing with the configuration themselves.”
While the expansion process is just beginning, Henderson said, “It will be a separate building with 32 standard-size classrooms, which is about 800 square feet. There will be one science lab, and there will be an elevator.”
Henderson noted the new building is expected to be constructed on the east end of the existing school, and will be separate from the existing building so it would have less impact on school activities during construction.
“If you are facing the school from Hardin Valley Road, you will notice on the right of the school is a large, empty field,” Hill said. “The field has been there (with administrators) hoping, at some point all along there would be expansion that would occur, but it’s not currently used for anything permanently at this point.”
Attempts to contact Speas were unsuccessful.