A coalition of parents and neighborhood organizations from across Knox County announces a community-driven county-wide forum to discuss the proposed school rezonings. The forum will be held at the Knoxville Expo Center, 5441 Clinton Highway, on Thursday, April 26th, 2007 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The coalition consists of parents and neighborhood groups in Knox County who are not satisfied with the level of community and parental involvement in deciding this important issue.
The purpose of the forum is to solicit from citizens their unanswered questions about the rezoning proposal that are specific to their individual school communities, to speak with one voice in urging postponement of the school board’s vote on the proposal, and to advocate for a new process more inclusive of citizens in addressing those questions the proposal seeks to answer.
In addition, the organizers will present an introduction to the advantages of good community planning and how citizens can become more involved in the process. The agenda will include a discussion of the underlying linkages between the current chaotic rezoning process, the perils of uncoordinated school and community planning, inappropriate land and residential development approvals, and the benefits of meaningful citizen input.
One of the forumâ€™s organizers, Powell resident and longtime schools activist Tamara Shepherd, said, â€œThis proposed school rezoning plan is a band-aid, not a real solution for the problem. The proposed plan will not address many of the underlying deficiencies of our current school zoning plan and it is being undertaken without understanding of the long-term effects of their actions. Changing communities around in this manner has significant implications throughout our county.â€
Sharon Davis, president of Town Hall East, feels that while some opportunities for public comment have been provided, most people in her neighborhood feel their message is not being taken seriously. â€œThe proposed rezoning plan will tear apart our neighborhood and I know many other communities in Knox County feel the same way,â€ Davis said. â€œThe public comment period is too short and does not involve residents in a meaningful way. There is not enough time between the forums and the board vote for them to take all of our concerns into account.â€
Lisa Starbuck, president of Northeast Knox Preservation Association says, â€œEven if your child is not affected by the current high school rezonings, just wait. The school board has already announced that rezonings for middle school and elementary schools are just around the corner. The time to fix the problem is now.â€
The group hopes to encourage involvement in a new citizen initiative advocating for better schools and planned growth. Civic activist Bob Wolfenbarger puts it this way: â€œAs parents and members of the community, we have a responsibility to our children to give them the best education we possibly can. We would like to identify those people who want to be involved in a process to make a positive change in our schools, then bring them together to seek solutions.â€
The group is directing citizens to http://www.knoxschools.info for those wishing to join a rezoning e-mail list and for more information.
Tamara Shepherd â€“ 947-0660 (Powell Community)
Sharon Davis â€“ 525-1242 (Holston/Chilhowee Community)
Lisa Starbuck â€“ 659-5708 (Ritta/Gibbs Community)
Bob Wolfenbarger â€“ 521-6566 (Alice Bell/Spring Hill Community)
Susanne Bentley â€“ 540-4000 (Carter Community)
Pamela Treacy â€“ 567-1960 (Farragut Community)
Cathy McCaughan â€“ 742-4242 or Doug McCaughan â€“ 898-7189 (Bearden Community)