The case for building a brand-new elementary school in Northwest Knox County can be made in two words:
Superintendent Bob Thomas has recommended building three new elementary schools: a new northwest sector school and replacements for Lonsdale and Adrian Burnett – aging, overcrowded buildings that have serious health and safety issues.
School board chair Terry Hill represents District 6, which encompasses the northwest quadrant of the county. She has committed Knox Planning’s Hardin Valley Mobility Study to memory:
“In the next 10 years, they are projecting 19,000 new people in the Northwest Corridor. The projection is 8,800 new homes in the next 10 years, and we have averaged 300 new building permits in Hardin Valley and Karns since 2014,” she said.
“Ninety percent of those are residential – we’re talking about homes, and that means kids. It’s just a matter of numbers.”
County Commissioner Brad Anders also represents District 6 and agrees with Hill.
“I’ve looked at every elementary school – Amherst, Hardin Valley, Karns – and all of those are over capacity. So I do think we need one (a new elementary school).
“I don’t think it should come in front of Lonsdale or Adrian Burnett though.”
Anders said he would like the county to assess aging school buildings in the inner city.
“There is a large long-term need for infrastructure inside the whole school system, and we’re going to look at our debt capacity.”
Hill said that getting a new northwest county school up and running will be more complicated than replacing an old school.
“We’ll be creating a whole new faculty and staff,” she said. “But that’s what growth brings us.”