PHOTO: School board member Brad Fiscus, 4th District, goes over the rezoning plans with parents during the neighborhood meeting Tuesday night at Oak View Elementary School. / Photo by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
The cafeteria at Oak View Elementary School was filled Tuesday night with mostly smiling parents and a few just wanting to curb any concerns as Williamson County Schools hosted the first of two neighborhood meetings this week that are focusing on proposed rezoning.
Tuesday’s meeting centered on new zoning to accommodate the opening later this year of a new elementary school on Gosey Hill Road. Many students from Oak View will be transferring to the Gosey Hill school by the time it’s expected to be move-in ready for the second semester of the 2019-20 school year. Those students in grades three through five next year will spend the first few months as a cluster of sorts in the portable classrooms at Oak View, with their own principal, teachers and support staff. They’re expected to move to the new school after the winter break.
“Our schools are overcrowded, we have more portables than we’ve had at any point in time in our recent history, and we’re all stressed,” WCS Superintendent Mike Looney said as he introduced the evening’s plan. “This school is a perfect example of that. We have six portables here now, and we’ll add at least five more this next school year.”
Overcrowding is also a main concern at Mill Creek Elementary School, which will be the topic of discussion at Thursday’s neighborhood meeting scheduled at 6 p.m. at Nolensville Elementary. Of particular note at that gathering is the fact that more than 200 students from the Silver Stream subdivision are being asked to transfer from Mill Creek to Nolensville, according to the proposed plan. Many parents have been outspoken about the plan.
“We’ve been working on this plan about five months,” Looney said of the overall rezoning approach. “There is no such thing as a perfect plan because we’re having to move people. There is always more than one way to do rezoning. … The bottom line is, we have to find the most effective way to move kids to a place that has capacity.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, a few WCS Board of Education members were present to help parents navigate the various zoning maps and charts, and to answer any questions they had. There was little pushback to the plan, if any.
“I think what we’ve heard is that people are excited about the new school and moving there,” said board member Nancy Garrett, 12th District. “And some people are here more for general information, to make sure that they’re in the loop, which we certainly appreciate. For example, there were some people here that aren’t affected but they’re from the neighborhood and they just wanted to have all the real information.”
Some parents also had the opportunity to visit with the new elementary school’s principal, Chris Schwartz, former Trinity Elementary principal who was selected in December to lead the Gosey Hill school.
“I think they’re really ready,” Schwartz said of the parents whose children will be attending the new school. “They’ve known this has been coming for a little while, just with the overcrowding they’ve already been working through. But ultimately, they’re ready for that new school.”
“Their biggest questions [Tuesday night] were if Ladd Park was going to be zoned in its entirety. There was some concern that it was going to be split. So once that was shared that the whole subdivision was coming, I think that alleviated any concerns.”
The rezoning plan is expected to be voted on at the board’s February meeting, scheduled for Monday, Feb. 18.