SMYRNA, Tenn. (WKRN) — Some Rutherford County schools are overflowing with students, and the district has been forced to reconfigure teacher work spaces and storage rooms to create more space.
At Stewarts Creek Elementary, there are 1,259 students enrolled, but the building only has room for 952.
Niki Ary’s son attends the school, and she told News 2 while she believes the teachers and district officials are doing their best to adapt, she has noticed changes due to the overcrowding.
“They’re having to rotate who gets to be on the playground, who gets to use the bathroom and when and all of that, because there’s just no place,” Ary said.
Stewarts Creek Elementary has employed three double-wide portable classrooms and a single portable classroom to catch the overflow of students. Other Rutherford County schools, including Riverdale High, Oakland High, and David Youree Elementary, have done the same.
However, Ary expressed her concerns about the safety of the portable classrooms.
“Technically, they could be sitting ducks if anybody wanted to do something,” Ary said. “And if, heaven forbid, tornadoes came through like they did north of Nashville and hit that school, where would those kids go? There’s not a space for them.”
Rutherford County Schools discussed the issue during both a recent school board meeting and a work session.
“We’ve gotten really creative. They’ve used every space they can use,” Trey Lee, assistant superintendent for engineering and construction, said. “We’ve emptied out storage buildings, we’ve emptied out teacher work rooms, we’ve emptied out all sorts of things to keep them inside the building as much as possible.”
Ary hopes the adjustments are temporary fixes. She believes the school district and county commissioners should work together to ensure schools have space before allowing more developments to be built.
“There are 11,000 permits apparently, according to Mrs. Sharp at the school board meeting on Wednesday night, to build 11,000 more houses,” Ary said. “Well, then you’re going to have children that need a school for those 11,000 houses, so they’ve got to set aside land for that.”
The district is working to utilize space in the schools that are not at capacity, including rezoning areas to free up room in overcrowded schools.