RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Blackman High has always been the school Charlie Eblen wanted his two sons to attend.
“I built a home two and a half miles away from the school district that I wanted my children to attend,” he said. “Now I’m being told that they’re not going to be able to do that.”
To tackle the growth that has exploded across Rutherford County, the school district announced back in September they would be planning a district-wide rezoning.
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“I continually heard, ‘How come we just rezone different areas every one or two years?’” said Dr. James Sullivan. “Can you not get a better plan together so you’re not rezoning the same streets every couple of years, or different areas every couple of years?”
Sullivan who serves as the district’s director of schools said until the district can get more schools built, they believe this rezoning will allow them to accommodate more students within the schools they currently have.
“We’re not going to fix the problem by rezoning,” said Elben. “Rezoning is just going to put a band-aid on it. We’ll have to rezone again in a year or two.”
Elben lives two miles away from Blackman High, but due to this proposed rezoning, his children would have to attend Siegel High ten miles away if this is approved.
“The amount of time that it’s going to take these kids to and from school is going to lessen the time it takes to do extracurricular activities,” he said.
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Travel time, finances, and relationships built in the community are just a few of the many concerns Elben has with this plan. So he launched a petition for the residents who live along his road.
“I started asking folks what do you think, what’s your opinion,” he said. “It’s overwhelmingly becoming stated to me and obvious that there’s not many people in this county that don’t oppose this change.”
With a final vote coming soon, Eblen hopes his voice and others’ will be loud enough for the district to hear. “At the end of the day, my children are important to me and we want to have a legacy that makes an impact in our community.”
Elben said he plans to speak out at Tuesday’s special called school board meeting where the district plans to vote on the proposed plan. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public.
News 2 reached out to Rutherford County Schools for a response to parents’ concerns and was sent this statement:
“Rezoning is not an enjoyable experience for anyone involved, that includes parents and the School Board. But the bottom line is we must utilize any available space we have available before we can get approved for funding to build any new schools or additions.”
The district also said the board will be considering all the feedback it has received before making its final decisions.