The Knox County School Board was presented with new plans of how the two new schools will look in early May. The school system broke ground on the schools in February, and plan to have them completely finished by June.
Hardin Valley and Gibbs Middle Schools will help with the “population boom” in the areas and the overcrowding at nearby schools. Gibbs will have a capacity of 600 students, while Hardin Valley will have a capacity of 1,200 students.
There are also a number of concerns and questions for the new middle schools: should the new school open with all grades, or grow into all grades; should some students (rising eighth graders) be “grandfathered” into their current school; how to develop a cohesive, constructive school community that will support student academic success.
However, the biggest concern for the new school development is zoning. The Board of Education must create a zone for each of the new school, causing rezoning for a number of existing schools.
Zoning considerations include: school capacity, transportation, parent responsibility zones, geographic and man made obstacles, and congruent middle and high school boundaries. Originally the new schools would require rezoning for eleven other schools, but that number was brought down to six after re-planning by the school board.
Buzz Thomas, interim superintendent, proposed that the new zones allow for the schools board to re-examine the zoning for Vine, Carter, Holston, and South-Doyle middle schools to keep students closer to their homes. Students north of the Tennessee River who are currently zoned for South-Doyle would be rezoned to Vine Middle, allowing for the students to be closer to home.
Thomas said that he would continue to seek input from parents and other stakeholders in the weeks before presenting the final plan before spring 2018. As of now, the new middle schools are approximately a month away from opening, in June 2018.