Williamson County - County Commission
By Donna OíNeil, Managing Editor
Parents, teachers and students Brentwood middle and high schools, Centennial High School and Fairview, packed the auditorium at the Williamson County Commission meeting Tuesday to show their support for a would-be resolution that could bring equity to their schools performing arts programs by way of renovations and the addition of space in said schools.
Williamson County Schools requested several appropriations at the final County Commission meeting of the calendar year.
Commissioners unanimously passed two resolutions, including $247,885 for additional regular and/or special education teachers and $126,230.49 to reoganize the SPED Department to ensure compliance and efficiencies, by a vote of 23-0 each. Commissioner Betsy Hester did not attend the meeting. A resolution requesting $6,041,050.
But it was a resolution requesting $22,250,000 to fund new buildings, additions and renovations that sparked discussion. A final request from the County Schools which sought $2,940,000 to address major asphalt and roofing needs was amended to $1,690 and passed by majority. Though commissioners are not permitted to declare what the funds will be spent on, the amount is equal to the roofing expenditures.
During the citizen communication portion of the meeting, more than a dozen people were signed up to speak on behalf of the measure adding or renovating performing arts spaces, but with only a 15-minute allotment, some voices went unheard – though their sentiments were echoed by others who spoke.
Mike Dennison, Brentwood High School PTO president, called the auxiliary gym “substandard” and “antiquated.” He asked commissioners to vote in favor of bringing the facility up to par with Franklin, Ravenwood and Summit’s facilities.
Echoing Dennison’s words David Caldwell implored that commissioners fund the request.
Brentwood resident Nan Gurley told commissioners she had been in attendance when the lights went off and on during productions at the Brentwood Middle School. She said, “The sound system buzzes. The curtains have dry rot. There is no sprinkler system in Brentwood Middle School and the HVAC system is woefully inefficient. Please consider the kids who are finding their passion in the performing arts.”
Woodland Middle School student Noah Siberson received a verbal pat on the back from Commission Chairman Jack Walton after the former spoke. Noah listed a litany of issues at his school, including lack of acoustics making it nearly impossible to hear the lines of students performing right next to you, moving expensive equipment from place to place with the threat of damage. And, “Some kids even hesitate to ask their grandparents to attend performance because of the uncomfortable chairs.”
Lindsay Seagroves of Fairview stated that one-third of the students at Fairview Middle School participate in music programs and they have no dedicated space. “The chorus meets ever day in the cafeteria,” she said, adding that equipment also had to be moved to Fairview Middle School in order to practice or perform.
When commissioners got their opportunity to discuss the measure, several amendments were presented lowering and raising the amount to be funded, but all did not include the cost of plans and designs for northeast high school and kindergarten through grade 8 facilities.
The standing room only crowd stood and applauded when the vote was taken to approve $16,950,000 to include HVAC and sprinklers and additional classrooms for an already overcrowded Brentwood Middle School, multipurpose renovation/auditoriums fro Brentwood and Centennial High Schools and auditoriums for Fairview and Woodland middle schools.
The vote was 21-2 with commissioners Judy Herbert and Brandon Ryan dissenting.
Posted on: 11/15/2012