Community meetings address county school rezoning ideas

Jacob Smith • Mar 28, 2018 at 5:53 PM

A pair of Wilson County Schools community meetings at West Wilson Middle School and Mt. Juliet Middle School on Monday and Tuesday nights, respectively, discussed potential rezoning options for Mt. Juliet-area middle schools and the latest on a future Mt. Juliet high school.

One of the things discussed was a possible rezoning option with the opening of Gladeville Middle School, expected next year.

Wilson County Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall said the school would house sixth- through eighth-grade students with a capacity of about 1,500. He said the school would be a combination of several schools, but resemble the new high schools on a smaller scale.

He said one of the most notable differences from high school designs would be two spiral staircases in the school’s main hall instead of just one near the school’s entrance and a hidden staircase further down the hallway. Hall said the change would ease some management issues, as well as lower the overall square footage.

The school will be built to alleviate overcrowding at Mt. Juliet and West Wilson middle schools, which have more than 1,600 and 1,300 students, respectively.

On Monday and Tuesday night, Hall and Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright spoke to parents at West Wilson and Mt. Juliet middle schools about what the proposed zoning will look like.

“We want to make sure that families have information about, really three issues, so you have time to make decisions, get accurate information and know about planning, what kind of stuff goes into much of our decision making,” said Wright.
The three issued discussed were zoning for the new middle school, zoning for the proposed new high school and zoning for county high schools if the new one doesn’t get approved.

“Our goal, when we asked for Gladeville Middle to be built, was first to relieve pressure on [West Wilson] and Mt. Juliet Middle School,” said Hall. “Some of the grades in these schools are bigger than some of our elementary schools.”

According to Hall, if the new school was built today and the proposed zones were accepted, the new school would have 792 students, Mt. Juliet Middle School would have 1,145 students and West Wilson Middle School would have 1,174 students.

Hall also talked about the proposed new high school yet to be approved. The Wilson County Commission approved $1.55 million last year for Wilson County Schools to design services for a potential new high school in Mt. Juliet.

The group also amended a resolution to require the district to put the project out for bid before it approves funds for construction. The design authorization does not signify the groups’ commitment to spend $110 million for a new high school, which is the estimated cost.

According to Hall, if the new high school was built today, it would have 1,541 students, Mt. Juliet High School would have 1,408, Wilson Central High School would have 1,425, Lebanon High School would have 1,772, and Watertown High School would have 787.

The last portion of the meeting discussed what would happen if the new high school isn’t funded. Hall said rezoning was necessary regardless, because of the overcrowding in some of the high schools.

“I can’t push them out of this one school and make this one overloaded and all of that. You take the pieces of the puzzle and redistribute them and make a puzzle look how it’s supposed to look,” said Hall. “With rezoning, you’re still going to have three high schools with 2,000 kids. We’re not creating capacity. We’re moving kids. We’re not building schools. You’re basically letting Mt. Juliet get 200-300 kids out of it, but you’re redistributing the other schools. They’re losing kids, but they’re also filling back up.”

If the new high school isn’t built and the county had to rezone the current high schools, Mt. Juliet High School would have 2,061 students, Wilson Central High School 2,037, Lebanon High School 2,048 and Watertown High School 787.

“This is not a recommendation we look forward to even having to consider,” said Hall.

More information and a full list of the school street listings may be found at wcschools.com/page/2494.

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