PHOTO: Several parents — most from the Silver Stream subdivision — came out Thursday night for the Williamson County Schools neighborhood meeting at Nolensville Elementary School. / Photo by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
There may have been remnants of a polar vortex in Nolensville Thursday morning, but that didn’t seem to faze Rebecca Abel’s daughter.
The third grader at Mill Creek Elementary School was ready to brave the elements.
“She asked this morning if she could walk to school today, and I said it’s 17 degrees, I think we’ll do the bus today,” Abel said. “But she’s ready to get back on the trail, especially with the nice weather coming up next week. She’s really looking forward to that.
Therein lies what is perhaps the crux of what brought Abel and plenty of other moms and dads from the Silver Stream subdivision to a neighborhood meeting on rezoning by Williamson County Schools. The more than 200 kids from Silver Stream who attend Mill Creek Elementary are being rezoned to Nolensville Elementary next year if a proposed plan by WCS is approved by the Board of Education.
Parents of Silver Stream, many of whom attended last week’s school board meeting wearing logoed T-shirts as a sign of unity in their neighborhood, had the opportunity to meet with WCS staff and board members in the cafeteria of Nolensville Elementary School.
Some expressed a strong kinship with Mill Creek, a school they truly see as a part of their neighborhood. And a paved trail that allows their children to walk and bike to school safely more or less exemplifies that quality of life element.
Abel said the main issue has to do with “the safety [factor] of having to exit the neighborhood combined with having the trail available, and our property shares a property line with the school. It seems like it’s in the best interest of our kids for them to be able to walk to school regularly so that we can avoid having to make a left-hand turn [on Rocky Fork Road] to come to Nolensville Elementary.”
“I think we need to take a closer look at the growth that will happen at this school and consider how moving Silver Stream to Nolensville Elementary may just be like a Band-Aid on a bullet hole,” she continued. “There’s so much growth that we’re looking at maybe having to rezone again in another one to two years. So if we could avoid shifting children back and forth multiple times in a small time frame, I think that’s best for everybody to have that consistency.”
WCS Superintendent Mike Looney began the evening by ensuring attendees their questions and concerns would be addressed as the plan proceeds. He also spoke to the difficulty of having to make these hard decisions about school zoning.
“This is a really hard process for all of us,” Looney said to the crowd. “It’s a hard process for the board because they want to please all their constituents. It’s a hard process for staff because we have to figure out how to move children, and obviously, it’s a hard process for you and your children because nobody wants to move their child during their schooling experience. We recognize that. But we’re growing by about 1,200 students a year.”
Abel said she understands it’s not an easy process, and appreciates the transparency demonstrated by staff and board members.
“Everyone’s been wonderful,” she said. “It’s clear that all the board members care about the community and not just the district they represent. Dr. Looney has been so available and everyone has been helpful when we’ve had questions or concerns.”
The rezoning plan is expected to be voted on at the board’s February meeting, scheduled for Monday, Feb. 18.