Fall ’24 is ‘hope’ for completion of new HVA classrooms: Speas

HARDIN VALLEY — Hardin Valley Academy is seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel” for its overcrowding concerns, as it awaits the passing of Knox County Commission’s proposed $954 million budget, which includes $11 million to add 32 classrooms to the high school.

Knox County Board of Education already has approved its budget and has passed it on to ommission. At the same time, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs has presented his proposals for when Commission is scheduled to meet Monday, May 23.

Confident the budget, and the $11 million, “should pass without issue,” Hardin Valley Academy principal Dr. Rob Speas added, “We’re hoping for construction to be completed and for us to start utilizing the space in fall 2024.

“Right now classroom space is our biggest challenge in Hardin Valley, so we’re excited to have a chance to alleviate some of those issues and hopefully allow our teachers to reduce their travel throughout the school.”

With the 32 classrooms, “We’re going to create a freshman academy in the new wing,” Speas said. “We basically have four hallways here at Hardin Valley Academy — and we have five academies within our school structure — so our freshmen kind of have to share space between two other academies.

“With the new addition, we’re going to give our freshmen their own space, as well as add a science lab and additional art classroom there as well,” he added. “We are very excited about the opportunity to continue to grow our school and create great experiences for kids.”

Many teachers currently travel amongst two to three, even four, classrooms throughout the day, “so we’re excited to try to reduce that down to give teachers a place to settle in, feel at home and create better learning environments for our students,” Speas said.

“Our teachers will reduce the amount of time they are moving between classrooms, so it will allow them to have more autonomy over their learning environments and ultimately provide better education for our kids.

“…We’re having to create some spaces within the existing building and share some spaces until then, to create more learning environments, so it’s going to be a tight squeeze until then,” the principal added, as HVA would expand from its current 74 rooms.

“Hardin Valley is growing at a rapid pace, and we don’t expect the influx of kids to stop anytime soon. But we’re excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

When asked if he thought 32 classrooms would be enough, considering the community’s growth, Speas replied, “It’s hard to say if it would be enough for the next 20 years, but I think it definitely is a huge step in the right direction.

“We’re adding probably about 40 percent of our capacity when we expand it, so it will allow us to be comfortable for the next foreseeable future,” he added.