RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Hundreds of students in Rutherford County will likely need to change schools over the next couple of years after the school board voted to approve the district-wide rezoning plan.
On Tuesday night, the Rutherford County School Board voted to change the zoning maps for elementary, middle, and high schools in the county despite pleas from parents.
“It’s hard to be invested when you’re constantly having to worry about the end rezoned, and then leaders are voting to possibly tear down what you’re trying to build,” said one parent of three Rutherford County students during the special board meeting.
Rutherford County Director of Schools Jimmy Sullivan said it isn’t something he wanted to do, but he felt there was no other option.
“We’re impacting students and kids being with their friends, their teachers, their school community,” Sullivan said. “Unfortunately, we’re adding about 1,200 students on a small year as a district. We’re up almost to 52,000 students, and we used to build a school year and we’re not building a school year right now.”
Sullivan said the board is working with the county commission to get more funding for new schools. However, in the meantime, the county needs to move students around to relieve packed schools and fill empty seats elsewhere.
“Right now I don’t see an alternative,” he said. “We have to use our seats because we don’t control funding. We can only control the education aspect.”
There is a caveat to the plan.
Nine months before these zoning changes go into effect, the board will need to take another vote to approve the maps again.
“We want to make sure that if there are areas that grow and development that didn’t exist two years ago, we want to incorporate that and maybe that has a couple of neighborhoods shift back and forth over the couple years,” Sullivan said. “And if we can keep one of the families that talked today from moving, that’d be a perfect scenario.”
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Sullivan said the current plan is for the changes to go into effect next school year for three elementary schools and the rest are not going to be implemented in the next couple of years.
“It’s a new strategy. Instead of just waiting until the school is built for us to rezone, we need to show the need and try to get out in front of that,” Sullivan said.
For more information on the rezoning plan, click here.