Getting school expansion process under way
The county's school expansion process to deal with the population boom is under way.
The Wilson County School Board voted unanimously Monday night to make an offer to owners of property at 5675 Central Pike for between 20 and 30 acres of a 67.61-acre parcel for a new elementary school in the west end of the county.
The board's vote comes on the heels of the Wilson County Commission's approval last week of issuing $55 million in bonds for school construction, including the Mt. Juliet-area elementary. The selected land was originally offered as a high school site, but the board decided that because neither of the two places offered for the elementary are in the area desired, and this one is - the offer would be made.
The new elementary is needed in part because of overcrowding at both Stoner Creek and Elzie D. Patton elementary schools. This parcel between Pleasant Grove and John Wright roads would be well located for an elementary, Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright said.
Rezoning would adjust
By adjusting the enrollment zone lines in Mt. Juliet, some students currently attending Stoner Creek could be shifted to the new school, allowing Stoner Creek to add some students from Elzie D. Patton.
The board also voted unanimously to start negotiations for 52.3 acres south of the new Stones Farm Subdivision next to Mt. Juliet High School. This property will be on Golden Bear Parkway when that road is completed.
This piece of land could be used as a combined elementary and middle school campus on the board's building schedule for about four to five years from now.
Board splits on middle school site
However, the board split on a proposal to make an offer for land to build a new middle school which is proposed to start construction in the spring of 2017. Among the options proposed are four different pieces of land, two of which seemed feasible to board members.
One, near Gladeville on Stewart's Ferry Road, is priced at $1.06 million - and the other, at 2600 S. Mt. Juliet Road, is priced at $3.85 million.
The Mt. Juliet Road property, with 54.5 acres, was favored by Zone 1 Board Member Wayne McNeese and Zone 3 Board Member Don Weathers.
The Stewart's Ferry property, with 53 acres, was favored by Board Chair and Zone 5 Member Larry Tomlinson and Zone 4 Board Member Linda Armistead.
After much discussion, Zone 2 Board Member Bill Robinson cast the swing vote in favor of the Stewart's Ferry land.
Armistead and Tomlinson both pointed out that the Stewart's Ferry property is over $2 million cheaper than the Mt. Juliet Road one, but Weathers said, "The cheapest isn't necessarily the best."
He then asked if the executive committee could look into both pieces, asking if the price on the Mt. Juliet Road piece might possibly be talked down. He also asked that the committee check on infrastructure costs for each one.
Motion dies for lack of second
The fourth project with land under consideration is a new high school to be located in or near Mt. Juliet.
In this case, three pieces of land initially were offered, but one was chosen for the new grade school, leaving two.
Wright recommended 68.5 acres between Hickory Hills Subdivision and West Division Street at an undeveloped price of $1.637 million. Armistead moved to approve it, saying that it's in her board zone and she was very pleased to make the motion for it - but no one else on the board would second the motion.
In later discussion, McNeese said he doesn't "want to drag his feet," but he wants to be sure this is the best move.
'Don't rip out heart' of MJHS
Weathers said, "It's not good to rip the heart out of the best high school in the state" - referring to Mt. Juliet High School, which was recognized earlier in the board meeting for being a reward school in two categories.
The proposed new high school would take most of its students from Mt. Juliet High, allowing that school to pick up students from Lebanon High and Wilson Central to relieve overcrowding in all three existing high schools, according to Assistant Director of Schools Mickey Hall.
Currently, MJHS has 2,100 students - and both of the other two schools have about 1,900 students each, Wright said.
Weathers added that he would be willing to attend as many work sessions or special called meetings as are needed to come to an agreement.
Test score grade percentage cut
The board also unanimously approved changes to the grading system to lower the percentage of final grades derived from state accountability testing from 20 percent in grades 3-8 and 25 percent in grades 9-12 to only 15 percent in all grades, the minimum allowed by state law.
Likewise, the board unanimously approved the following teachers for tenure in the Wilson County Schools:
Tanya Jenkins, Mitzi Lundy, Janeene Davis, Melanie Williams, Debra Yankura, Lindsey McCaslin, Mindy McCombs, Katie Speiser, Rachel Goodman, Ashley Jordan, Lydia Jordan, Justin Angel, Stephanie Porter, Maria Kell, Michelle Ramey, Audrey Frazier, Lindsey Nicholas, Amanda Tucker;
Carrie Wallace, Lauren Brian, Christina Cassell, Bobby Pruitte, Lori Boykin, Candace Brader, Jennifer Raines, Allyson Boynton, Neely Roberts, Angel Thomas, Erin Casler, Carly Clinard, Tracy Hearn, Stephanie Bess, Amanda Lussier, Tiffany Martin, Karissa Rogers, Lacey Schultz, Kenneth Gluck, Kristi Dragon, and Amanda Rashon.
Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at email@example.com.