By EMILY WEST
Williamson County Schools will start working on its rezoning master plan in 2017.
But parents take a breath – none of the plans go into effect until fall 2018.
The district will create a wide scope for the rezoning plan, the first one in nearly six years. Redrawing the lines for schools comes in anticipation of growth, which will soon become the Williamson County School Board’s top priority.
In the next five years, Williamson will absorb nearly 10,000 students. In the next 10 years, that number doubles to 20,000 more students. Right now, it costs nearly $25,000 to construct a seat for a new student in the district.
“To the fullest extent possible we are looking at it in sections of the county,” Superintendent Mike Looney said of the plans for dealing with the growth. “We have the plats of all known developments and how many homes and how many kids per home it should create. We have access to all the sewer capability to the fullest extent possible.”
Despite trying to keep up with the data as best as possible, growth continues to suprise officials here.
“I didn’t learn until this last week that Ovation (a massive development coming to Cool Springs) will house thousands of residents,” Looney said. “How many schools is that? I don’t even know.”
Currently, Williamson has 38,240 students enrolled in the district, equaling 126 more than projected for this year. Six elementary schools – Allendale, College Grove, Kenrose, Longview, Oak View and Scales – have enrollment at more than 100 percent capacity. Some even teeter toward 111 percent.
At the middle school level, a similar pattern has developed out of the nine schools in the county. At least 30 percent are bursting at the seams, with Page Middle School enduring 117 percent capacity. The other two – Brentwood and Spring Station – also face the same amount of increased population.
High schools in the county are facing the same situation, even with the opening of Nolensville High School, which is alleviating some of the pressure. As of this year, Brentwood, Franklin, Independence, Page and Renaissance high schools are at 100 percent or higher.
“The rezoning plan will contemplate new facilities and construction,” Looney said. “If we add another high school in a community, it will take two years to build under current policy, juniors and seniors can grandfather. I don’t see kids leaving for another feeder pattern, but we are actively looking for land to acquire to build.”
To prepare for the growth and rezoning, a new Thompson’s Station school plan is underway along with purchasing land in the northeast Brentwood area for a new school. The board will soon vote on masterplans for both Brentwood and Franklin, along with creating a new one for Page High School.
Both grandfathering and siblings policies remain in place unchanged.
Looney will present a plan to the board in April of what a rezoning could look like. Following, the presentation, the community will get input on the plan in May. The board will finally vote on the rezoning effort in the summer.
No changes will take affect until fall 2018, giving families a year to prepare.