Blackman Elementary proposed rezoning plan is not sitting well - WSMV News 4

Blackman Elementary proposed rezoning plan is not sitting well with most parents

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A proposed rezoning plan in Rutherford County could split at least one neighborhood right down the middle with students going to different elementary schools, including one that is miles away. It's not sitting well with some parents.

It's a topic that has stirred a lot of debate - rezoning.

"It's a one-year fix and we're back here next year," parent Adam Seaborn said at a public hearing at Brown's Chapel Elementary School.

"We ask that you don't rezone us," said parent Jeff Rainwater.

Rainwater lives in the Puckett Station community about a half a mile from Blackman Elementary. There is a proposal to rezone part of his subdivision to Brown's Chapel some 5.6 miles away. He feels it would be a better use of money to do away with portables and get kids into buildings rather than considering putting school resource officers (SRO) in every school.

"I think it's more important to get kids out of a portable than it is putting an SRO with a loaded weapon in the school," Rainwater said. "Not that I have a problem with a loaded weapon in the school with security, but quite frankly I think the county can spend better money - $1 million a year could go a long way toward the debt service of the schools."

Parents also expressed their concerns at a public hearing about the distance and the increased time their kids will have to travel to Brown's Chapel, which is on a curvy two-lane road with no shoulder.

"This is definitely a more dangerous drive," parent Tom Stephens said.

As it stands right now, 130 students will be rezoned if approved by school board members.

"There is no easy fix for Rutherford County; a little over 1,012 students this year along, and when you're looking that, you're looking at a school per year," said Dr. Don Odom, Rutherford County director of schools.

This has been an emotional issue for some. Sheri Guider cried as she addressed the school board. She has a son with disabilities and said he needs stability.

"I ask you to consider what type of emotional stress you put on any child by moving them," Guider said.

Some homeowners in the Blackman community said they moved there just for the schools, and they hope the school board will reconsider the rezoning plan. They feel the proposed plan would be putting a bandage on the overcrowding problem.

"It doesn't buy you the best bang for your buck when you talk about moving kids around," Seaborn said. "Next year you'll have to make another tough choice, what do you do with the kids next year?"

The school board has a $132 million five-year plan to build a new elementary, middle, and high school, but it hasn't been determined where they will be located. There is also talk about building a new sixth-grade wing onto Blackman Middle.

The board is working with Murfreesboro City Schools in hopes that the district can build an elementary school in the area where folks pay both city and county taxes to help with overcrowding.

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