County, School Board and Brentwood leaders meet to discuss growth, schools


County, School Board and Brentwood leaders meet to discuss growth, schools

Brentwood city leaders met with Williamson County School Board members and county leaders Wednesday night for an informal dinner and discussion of issues in each’s area, with the focus mostly being on schools and growth.

Brentwood city leaders met with Williamson County School Board members and county leaders Wednesday night for an informal dinner and discussion of issues in each’s area, with the focus mostly being on schools and growth.

Williamson County Director of Schools Mike Looney said next year there’s a projection of more than 1,800 new students in the county and, to keep up with growth, new schools are going to have to be built. However, he said options for the short term should be considered as well.

“I have an idea to take the Brentwood high and middle campus and reconfigure it so we don’t have to build another facility,” Looney said. “What we’d do, ideally, is put artificial turf on the football field so it could be used for practices and games. This would do away with need for the practice fields. We would then build a two-story eighth and ninth grade complex on that field.”

There will be a meeting on Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. at Brentwood High School to discuss this with the school community and talk about ideas like Looney’s.

The County Commission recently approved a property acquisition in Thompson’s Station to build a new K-8 school that will open in August of 2017. Building is also being considered in Brentwood, but available property is becoming more difficult to come by.

“We can’t sustain growth by just buying and building new campuses,” Looney said. “We also have to look at the campuses we have now and utilize them differently.”

Academically, Looney said Williamson County is stronger than ever and on track to make the average ACT score goal of 24.

“The data I have says we’ll surpass that this year,” he said. “Academically, we are in really good shape.”

Growth in general was a hot topic, but Brentwood City Manager Kirk Bednar put some numbers into perspective on building permits.

“There’s a lot of growth and it may feel like it’s out of control, but we finished 2015 with 246 or 248 new single family building permits, which is about the same as last three years,” he said. “We’re at 40% of what we were at around 2005, 2006 when we were at 500 and 600 building permits a year. I can’t imagine what it would feel like if we were at those numbers right now.”

Bednar said the city is certainly not trying to add to the problem, and commercial development in the northern part of Brentwood will provide additional funds for education through retail sales taxes, which go directly to the schools.

“That’s a positive as we look at our budget this year,” he said.

Brentwood Mayor Regina Smithson echoed these thoughts, adding that developments like the Hill Center and CityPark will be a boost to tax revenues for the city.

“For years the Hill Center was a Baptist convention center and we received no taxes from it,” she said. “That development will be a big benefit to the county, to the schools, to the city of Brentwood and it’s progressing right along. In my opinion it’s beneficial to all of us.”

The dinner meeting was an informal opportunity for county and city leaders to address issues like growth and education, and it is held quarterly.

Samantha Hearn reports for Home Page Media Group. She can be reached via email at samantha@brentwoodhomepage.com or on Twitter @samanthahearn.

About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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