Metro Schools getting ready for district-wide rezoning

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 2:37am

Metro Schools thinks the time is right to re-examine its rezoning plan.

There has not been a district-wide rezoning plan in several years but now with some low-enrollment schools and some overcrowded ones, the district looks to make changes as the system and School Board begins the process of adjusting its student cluster plan.

School district officials said they were finalizing recommendations yesterday, as the entire rezoning proposal will be presented to the Board of Education at its meeting tonight.

An official proposal was not released late yesterday.

Board member George Thompson thinks there are several catalysts for the new proposal including schools operating under capacity or below the maximum number of students, a desire for students to attend schools closer to their homes, and a need to reduce transportation costs.

One Metro parent said she has been concerned about enrollment at her child’s school, Westmeade Elementary, this year and is anxious to see the new plan.

“We’ve conscientiously chosen to remain [in Metro Schools] because we want to make a difference and we want our kids to be exposed to the diversity,” said Cindy Smith, a parent of five Metro schoolchildren.

Westmeade has seen a decline in enrollment over the years of nearly 31 percent from 446 students in 2002-03 to 309 this year. Harpeth Valley Elementary, in the same cluster (a district-drawn geographical boundary) with Westmeade, however, has seen an increase in enrollment by about 5 percent — enough to warrant building an addition to the school — over the same period of time.

It is this unbalance in the cluster that upsets Smith, she said, and why she is looking forward to the new rezoning plan.

“We want students at Westmeade, we don’t want to be under capacity,” she said. “We want to be able to care for the students in our neighborhood and other students in our zone. It just seems to be an irresponsible use of tax dollars to build when you’ve got schools in the same cluster, two miles down the road, that are standing empty.”

Following the board’s first review of the plan, community members will be allowed to weigh in on the plan, according to Larry Collier, director of Student Assignment Services for the school district.

He said district officials would be meeting with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, the Metro Council and members from the community in the coming weeks.

The school district hopes to have a solid plan by December, a timeline Thompson said might be unrealistic.

He said because the issue is so important, to the point that this new plan could create segregated school once again, it needs more examination.

“It’s premature for me to say but I think this thing needs a whole lot more attention than to put it on a greased, fast track, and all of a sudden get ourselves in a crack,” Thompson said. “I really have some concern as to whether we’re premature and whether we’re a year or two early on dealing with this sensitive issue.”

The board member is concerned that the new plan could cause the school district to revert back to old zoning patterns that led them into two segregation lawsuits.

Although Metro Schools has never used race as a factor for integrating its schools, according to district officials, it did undergo several phases of attempted integration with two court cases beginning in 1995 with Robert Kelly v. Board of Education of Nashville and in 1960 with Maxwell v. County Board of Education of Davidson County.

Eventually in 1971 the courts ruled that Metro would use cross-town busing as a means of integration and the system was just released of that requirement in 1998.

The school board meets at 5 p.m. at Metro Schools administrative office, 2601 Bransford Ave.

Filed under: City News
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By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Might help the obesity problem and will give the kids a chance to make friends from the neighborhood so they can go out and "play" after school rather then playing computer games by themselves.Busing creates social isolation breaking down the sense of community and hinders the ability to personally interact within it and denies them the oportunity to make life long friends.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

idgaf, I agree with you on this one. Busing never solved anything. It is hard for the parents to get involved in their childrens school if it is on the other side of town.

By: Fundit on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I'm guessing the Harpeth Valley parents won't be too happy about this. It is the number one elementary in the county.

By: no1uknow on 12/31/69 at 6:00

It just seems to be an irresponsible use of tax dollars to build when you’ve got schools in the same cluster, two miles down the road, that are standing empty.”If that were true I would agree. But HVS and WM are more like 6 miles apart, not 2. The question is - why do the people in your neighborhood not want to go to your school? If all the folks in your area actually sent their kids to WM it would not be undercapacity. Rezoning is good and necessary, but you need to get the district to deal with whatever issues they've created that make your neighbors want to send their kids to private while the people who live in zone at HVS prefer to send their kids to public.

By: Fundit on 12/31/69 at 6:00

What mutt are you referring to? Must all your replies be laced with insults and superiority?We took our kids out of a private school that we could well afford because we grew tired of the unrealistic all-white cookie-cutter environ that in no way reflects the real world.

By: no1uknow on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Fundit, I agree. Plantsman, your comments were cruel and unnecessary and uninformed. They brought nothing of value to the discussion. Cindy Smith is obviously a caring parent who is very frustrated but IMHO is turning her frustration against a nearby school and not where it belongs - with district policy. I hope the redistricting will help her situation but it won't change what happens at HVS in any measurable way.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Yo libs open up your eyes and look at the test results and the drop out rate and see the light.Pedro is slipping it to you and you are begging for more.The system is broke right outside the gate of the junk yard.

By: ClintBrewer on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Clean it up, plantsman. Calling children names doesn't cut it here. Talk about issues and drop the personal insults or go to another message board.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Is that a fundit flytrap I just saw?

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

How about going back to letting people post on all articles instead of the ones NCP chooses? This whole e-paper thing is a joke.

By: no1uknow on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Thank you CB for removing such offensive remarks. I was just about to write your paper and tell you that I had signed off forever. Please don't let these boards turn into something not worth visiting and contributing to.