WILLIAMSON COUNTY: Capacity, split feeder still at center of WCS rezoning plan review
By Donna O'Neil, Staff Writer
Lines were drawn Monday night for what appears to be the final time in the efforts to rezone the entire Williamson County School District for the upcoming school year. “[This is] a five-year rezoning proposal to carry the district forward. It maximizes the buildings we have and minimizes split feeders,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mike Looney. Of the current student population of more than 31,000, WCS officials have identified 3,108 students who would be rezoned.
There are five scenarios that present split-feeder patterns. In the fall, Woodland Middle School will see 22 percent of its students zoned to Centennial High School and 78 percent to Ravenwood High School. Oak View Elementary School students will feed to Page Middle and Heritage Middle schools with 49 percent to attend Page Middle, 51 percent to Heritage Middle. Winstead Elementary School will also feed to Page Middle and Heritage Middle with 34 percent of the students going on to Heritage Middle School and 66 percent attending Page Middle. Page Middle School students will feed both Centennial and Page High School. Seventy-three percent will continue to Page High with the remaining 27 percent attending Centennial.
The new elementary school being built in the Breezeway-area neighborhood will send 19 percent of its student population to Woodland Middle School and 81 percent to Page Middle School.
In addition to split feeders, there is also a need to rezone students to minimize overcrowding at district schools. With the opening of Summit High School in Spring Hill at the beginning of the 2011-12 academic year, 12 percent of Williamson County high school students will be affected. The number would have been half that if the school were not coming online in August 2011.
The report details 163 Franklin High School students would attend Independence High School, 42 Independence students would attend Page High School and 482 Independence students would be rezoned to Summit High School. A total of 424 students who are now zoned for Ravenwood High School would be zoned to attend other schools, including 123 to Brentwood High School, 249 to Centennial High School and 52 to Page High School.
In the district’s middle schools, 662 middle school students will be rezoned to different schools in the fall. This represents 9.6 percent of the total middle school students in the district. The number of elementary school students is 1,264, as identified in the plan. This number represents 9 percent of the total elementary population incorporating the Breezeway-area school and 5 percent without the new school.
Looney was quick to say this plan is not a long-term solution, but a five-year plan.
“Even in a downed economy, Williamson County continues to grow. With growth, zoning is inevitable,” said Looney as he outlined the county’s growth potential in nearly every slide shown in a zoning proposal presentation to the School Board at their regular meeting. He credited cooperation from county and municipal planning departments for providing the information assisting with the growth projections. Of the more than 16,000 homes approved to be built in Williamson County, more than 9,770 have yet to be built. Although he believes the economic downturn to be a factor in slower growth, Looney believes that growth will continue creating a need for even more schools in the district.
The plan follows at least three previous revisions beginning with initial plan reveal at a public meeting Sept. 20 by Joe Odell of Edulog, a representative from the software company whose program is the basis for all zoning plans in Williamson County. That plan involved no community input and was based solely on school locations and population. Shortly after that plan was released, geographic challenges, isolated incidents and parent requests for appeals to the plan generated two additional versions of the plan.
The current plan incorporates revised capacity numbers from district schools when it was revealed that the capacity at Centennial High School had gone underreported for almost a decade. At this juncture, Central Office staff has reviewed and revised capacities at all district schools and feel confident they are working with numbers that are more appropriate.
The proposal highlighted some unique solutions and programs to ease the rezoning transition and creative solutions to lengthy transportation times.
School Board members were asked to consider the proposal with the intent to vote on it at a special-called meeting Thursday, Nov. 11, to be held prior to their regular work session on that same evening.
Posted on: 10/28/2010