Deal to sell old school to Lipscomb put on hold

Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 11:45pm

Plans to sell the old Walter Stokes School building on Belmont Boulevard to Lipscomb University have, at least momentarily, stalled, with Metro school officials having second thoughts about relinquishing the property while the district’s enrollment grows.

The historic building, situated across the street from the Lipscomb campus, most recently served as temporary space for students of Julia Green Elementary School during its renovation.

Lipscomb wants to buy the building to house administrative offices and classrooms for the university’s College of Education. A deal seemed secure after the school board voted this year to transfer the property to Metro — though the property would have still been subject to a typical bidding process.

But at Tuesday’s Metro Council meeting, District 25 Metro Councilman Sean McGuire, who represents the Green Hills area, deferred voting on an ordinance that would have officially declared the Stokes property as surplus, paving the way for its ultimate sale. The matter will be taken up again next month.

McGuire said Joe Edgens, the district’s director for facilities and operations, informed him the Friday before the vote that Metro schools officials were reconsidering declaring the property surplus until they review future growth patterns of the Hillsboro High School cluster.

“We asked Councilman McGuire if he would consider a deferral for a couple of meetings so that we could do an analysis of long-term enrollment needs in the cluster to see if we would need to use this site for a new school building,” said Green Hills school board member Michael Hayes.

School enrollment is up significantly over the previous year, hovering currently around 78,000.

13 Comments on this post:

By: richgoose on 9/24/10 at 12:55

In order to for Metro to need that building they will first have to buy more school busses. The people in that area are not going to send their kids to a public school unless it is a neighborhood school. Julia Green is a model school because zoning slipped by the people who represent the underclass.

By: SirKnight on 9/24/10 at 7:03

That is such an ambiguous term, richgoose. Please tell us who or what you mean by "underclass". Is there an "overclass", too? If so, who are they?

By: dogmrb on 9/24/10 at 7:07

I think using it as the Board of Education is a great idea. Sell the property over on Bransford and move on to a new day. With a smaller "top" bureacracy, you don't need so many offices and the Bransford location has a bad karma but Stokes doesn't.

By: Ex Civil on 9/24/10 at 7:14

The Stokes school property may be surplus, but even mentioning Julia Green raises an interesting historical perspective. Julia Green was the second elementary school to have been temporary occupants of the Stokes in my brief tenure in Nashville. The history of the Julia Green remodel is much more, in my opinion, sorted. My recollection is that the school boards published list for school remodeling put Julia Green somewhere below twentieth in line, when the parents set out to raise a major portion of the money required for the remodel of the school, changing the position of Julia Green to number three [3]. To an outside observer, which I am, it appears that Julia Green is a private school feeding in the public trough. One might be lead to ask why the parents of Julia Green student’s did not start a charter school and be done with public education and still remain at the public trough. The answer is quite simple Charter Schools, at the time, were only and option in zone schools that were failing and Julia Green was not and is not a failing school.

By: SirKnight on 9/24/10 at 7:48

Ex, thank you for your explanation of how all that went down. As a lifelong Nashvillian in the Green Hills/Belle Meade/Bellevue area, I never really knew or understood how all Julia Green evolved like it did.

I went to Stokes from 1st to 3rd grades when it was for grades 1 thru 8! (I thought 8th graders were practically adults when I was six years old (1966).) I've kept my eye on the place ever since and would dearly like to see this old building rehabbed and revived again one day. I just want to walk the halls once before they change it too much.

By: richgoose on 9/24/10 at 10:15

SirKnight...........I have been asked for my definition of the underclass. Through my eyes it is those who are morally,educationally,and financially bankrupt.

By: MetalMan on 9/24/10 at 12:05

What happend in a nutshell is that the parents of Julia Green students took their school back and saved it from the cesspool most of the other Nashville Public Shools fell in to. Public education only works with the neighborhood concept - we've at least learned that much.

By: dogmrb on 9/24/10 at 12:42

Your short time in Nashville, Ex Civil, gives what happen during the "short time" you were in Nashville. Julia Green and all the students/families that have attended it over time have a much more checked history than you portray it. However, it is now a "neighborhood" school in a very wealthy area and many of the parents do send their children there and have the resources to make generous donations. Some of them have even made the commitment to send their kids to middle and high school programs they are zoned to: John Trotwood Moore and Hillsboro High School. If the students/parents stay focused, they receive an excellent education and have a better chance of getting into top schools with scholarships than those who go to private schools. Success in life cannot always be bought.

By: SirKnight on 9/24/10 at 12:54

Excellent post, dogmrb. I live in Bellevue now and have sent my two youngest through the public school route. As parents, we have totally invested ourselves and fully supported the 'free' public education that my son and daughter have received. They started at Harpeth Valley (with the highest test scores in Nashville) and moved thru Bellevue Middle, also blessed with high-level grade performance as an IB School. Today, one is in Hillwood and the other is fortunate enough to go to MLK Magnet and will graduate this year. From what I have experienced, their 'free' education wasn't entirely free. But it has been a rewarding experience for all of us.

I hope Stokes School will get a second life as an area elementary school or middle school before it's cast of as BOE ancillary office!

By: richgoose on 9/24/10 at 1:13

DOGMRB......You may not realize this but the reason that Julia Green was wrested away from total control by the school system was first of all the "powers that be failed to zone the school with enough underclass students." This in itself gave the parents the ability to take their school back. The parents have poured money hand over fist into this school to make it what it is. The best teachers are begging to teach there. The school board is still in awe of how much money has been give to this school by parents and supporters of anything to do achievement by it's students/

By: Lealand419 on 9/24/10 at 2:28

I spent 8 years at Walter Stokes Elementary, in the class of '59. Of course, times have changed considerably since then, along with needs, politics, etc. Nonetheless, the Stokes location remains a valuable property in a growing, thriving area. I would love to see it renovated for use once again as a public school, serving the greater Nashville community. There is a wealth of student diversity living within easy travel distance of Stokes. Many would not even require buses. Let's look well ahead at Metro's needs before considering letting go of this prime property.

By: dangerlover on 9/24/10 at 4:07

For what it's worth, my understanding of why Julia Green is a superior school has more to do with a gift of $2+ million from an element of the Frist family than anything else. (They wanted their kids to go to a "public" school.) Seems to me that unless they tear down green hills mall there is not a whole lot of potential population growth in that area...

By: dogmrb on 9/25/10 at 6:45

@dangerlover: you are right about the recent history of infusion of wealth from the Frists but I don't know if their kids actually go there. And richgoose, the JG parents clammered for "those" children to go back to their "own" neighborhood" schools not the JG parents' school. That's when the greatest infusion of capital occurred. JG has a long history of back and forth over the economic mix of students that works. There are several schools in MNPS that are actually achieving higher academic achievement levels than JG but that's not the only thing that many parents want from school. Again you usually get back what you invest, especially if it's sweat equity.