Station Camp rezoning vote deferred

School Board member Jim Hawkins (far right) discusses a proposed rezoning of Station Camp area students with parents following Tuesday’s School Board meeting. TENA LEE

Under a proposal to temporarily rezone Station Camp area students until a new school campus is built in the area, Dana Smith’s fourth-grade daughter would be forced to attend four schools in four years.

“Under your plan my fourth grader will have to attend Station Camp Elementary for fourth grade; Beech [Elementary] for fifth grade; T.W. Hunter for sixth grade and the new school for seventh grade,” Smith told members of the Sumner County Board of Education on Tuesday.

Smith, a room mom and PTO vice president at Station Camp Elementary, was one of several parents who voiced concerns about what impact the proposed rezoning would have on their children.

Sumner County Director of Schools Del Phillips announced a two-phase rezoning plan at a School Board retreat on Oct. 23 in which plans for a new school campus on Upper Station Camp Creek Road were unveiled. The School Board approved the plans Oct. 30, and members of the Sumner County Commission voted to fund them in the form of a bond on Nov. 19.

Stage 1 of the rezoning plan will move around 143 Station Camp Elementary students; 77 Station Camp Middle students and 74 Station Camp High School students to Beech area schools for the 2019-2020 school year to alleviate crowding at Station Camp schools.

The students would then move back to the new school campus when it opens in 2021, according to Stage 2 of the plan.

Smith, who helped form the group Stop Stage 1 Rezoning, told school board members that the temporary rezoning would have psychological, emotional, social and academic consequences on students as well as negatively impact traffic in the Beech area. 

“We needed better planning two years ago,” she said. “Poor planning on the part of adults shouldn’t negatively affect our children.”

Parent Sarah Beal shared research concerning the correlation between student mobility and achievement.

“Research shows that multiple moves are detrimental to our children,” said Beal. “This is unprecedented in our county… It is most definitely an unfair upheaval of our children.”

Matt Harding, whose three children attend Station Camp schools, handed board members a list of alternatives to the proposed plan.

“We want to partner with you and be a part of the solution,” he said. “Our children deserve better.”

Among Harding’s six suggested alternatives, four require the use of portables. The sixth alternative would allow Station Camp High School students to stay at the school if they provide their own transportation.

School Board member Sarah Andrews hinted that the use of portables likely won’t be a consideration.

“We worked really hard in this county to get rid of portables,” she said. “It wouldn’t be fair to go to the County Commission and ask for portables when they’ve fought so hard to remove them.”

It was Harding’s final suggested alternative, first mentioned by Phillips as a possibility in October, that drew the most discussion by board members on Tuesday.

Andrews made a motion to amend the Stage 1 rezoning plan to allow Station Camp High School students who will be in the ninth through 11th grades in the 2019-2020 school year to remain at the school until they graduate as long as they provide their own transportation. 

School Board member Ted Wise said that solution would be unfair to a student who wouldn’t be able to provide his or her own transportation.

“I can’t support an amendment to this motion that is unfair to some,” he said.

Gallatin School Board member Patricia Brown said she didn’t think transportation would be an issue with those who wanted to stay at the school.

“Kids are resourceful at that age,” she said. “If they want to get there, they’ll work it out.”

After discussion about which grade students would be allowed to stay at Station Camp, Phillips suggested that the amendment be deferred for further discussion so that some SCHS students wouldn’t be grandfathered in and allowed to stay during the Stage 2 rezoning while Beech students would be forced to be rezoned.

School board members voted to defer a vote on the rezoning until the School Board meeting in January.  

A final vote on the rezoning is scheduled to take place in February.

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