HARDIN VALLEY, Tenn. (WATE) — The decision to add a new school zone in northwest Knox County remains in limbo amid the construction of a new elementary school. School board members postponed the rezoning vote this week until November so they can dive deeper into the data.
Coward Mill Road is busier than usual as construction continues to build a new elementary school.
“This school will affect three existing elementary schools,” school board member Betsy Henderson said. “Hardin Valley Elementary, Ball Camp Elementary, and Karns Elementary, and all three of those schools are currently overcrowded.”
It’s hoped the new school will alleviate overcrowding issues. The plan is to start with 700 students: 500 from Hardin Valley, 200 from Karns and about 35 from Ball Camp. The school will have a capacity of about 1,200 students.
Henderson is the District 6 representative where the new school is going and reports some existing elementary schools have about 40 students per classroom.
“They do have two teachers, but it is a lot of kids at one time,” Henderson said. “I know the capacity at Hardin Valley is 1,200 and they’re currently at 1,400.”
“They have to turn art rooms into classrooms, technology labs,” Cheryl Passalacqua said. “They’ve had to turn other rooms that are made for encore classes into classrooms.”
Passalacqua’s two kids go to Hardin Valley Elementary, and they could be rezoned to attend the new school.
“They’re excited. They just want to know that their friends are going to go, and we tell them some of them are going to go and some are not, but this is still one big community,” she said, “Both elementary schools are still probably going to work together on some projects and some fundraisers, so we’ll get to see the Hardin Valley Elementary friends.”
According to Henderson, some parents want their students to stay at their current schools.
“Just having that option because some families have expressed that they are a part of this Hardin Valley community,” she said. “Their children have been established in this particular elementary school for you know ‘X’ amount of years.”
Traffic is a concern for many regarding the new school.
Randall Hughes lives across the street from where it’s being built.
“This little road (Coward Mill) people drive like it’s the speedway, the interstate,” he said “I hope with a school being here that the sheriff’s department will maybe patrol a little more.”
For school leaders, safety is high on the priority list.
“The county is going to be working on the road infrastructure, widening the roads around the school,” Henderson said.” “Once concern I’ve heard is, ‘if they’re rezoned to this new elementary school, getting back to the other side of Hardin Valley to drop off if they have a middle school or high school student also.’ So, I’ve been hearing a lot of that and taking that into consideration as well.”
Overall, Hughes believes the school will be a big benefit for the community.
It’s expected for school board members to vote on the rezoning item during their meeting in November.