By Heather Mullinix
A change in the building program approved by the Cumberland County Board of Education almost 10 years ago could be coming, with discussions of the board's building and grounds committee focusing on needed upgrades and additions at existing schools instead of new schools. The number of students attending elementary schools out of zone will be part of that discussion.
"We've [the building and grounds committee] discussed this several times," Vivian Hutson told the board during its April 25 meeting. "We are going to do a work session so all board members can be a part of the discussion."
In 2003, the board commissioned a school facilities study to evaluate current and future needs. That study offered a 20-year plan, with phase one including construction of Stone Memorial High School, renovation of Crossville Elementary to serve as the school district offices and renovations to Cumberland County High School. That included construction of an auditorium at CCHS, which has been planned but not funded.
The study found the school system would need to renovate elementary schools and likely need an additional elementary school within five to 10 years. However, in recent months, the members of the BOE's building and grounds committee have expressed interest in building additions at schools to remove portable classrooms for increased safety at schools.
"We're trying to eliminate those safety problems," Hutson said.
Part of planning for facility needs includes evaluating the number of students attending schools that are zoned for other schools.
"There's a pretty considerable number of students attending out of zone," Charles Tollett, 1st District representative, said. "That could have a tremendous impact on building needs."
A report of out-of-zone students was presented to board members. South Cumberland Elementary has the highest number of students attending out of zone, with 206 students. Of those, 92 are zoned for Brown Elementary, 9 are zoned for Crab Orchard Elementary, 32 students zoned for Homestead Elementary, 42 zoned for Martin Elementary, 26 zoned for Pleasant Hill, and 5 students zoned for Stone Elementary.
Brown Elementary has 11 students attending from outside the school zone, with 3 from Homestead, 1 from North Cumberland, 3 from South Cumberland and 4 from Stone Elementary.
At Crab Orchard Elementary, 15 students attend out of zone, with 2 from Homestead, 3 from Martin, 1 from North Cumberland, 8 from Pine View and 1 from Stone Elementary. Director of Schools Aarona VanWinkle previously told the building and grounds committee some of those attending out of zone from Pine View actually lived right outside the Crab Orchard city limits in the area of Renegade Mountain. Though zoned for Pine View, Crab Orchard was actually closer to their homes.
There are 47 students attending Homestead from out of zone. Those students come from Brown, 16 students, Crab Orchard, 14 students, Martin, 9 students, North Cumberland, 3 students, South Cumberland, 3 students, and Stone Elementary, 2 students.
There are 19 out-of-zone students attending Martin Elementary, with 1 zoned for Brown, 3 zoned for Homestead, 1 zoned for Pleasant Hill, 3 zoned for South Cumberland, and 11 zoned for Stone Elementary.
There are 7 students attending out of zone at Pine View Elementary, with 4 zoned for Crab Orchard and 3 zoned for Homestead.
There are 3 out-of-zone students at Pleasant Hill, with 2 zoned for Crab Orchard and 1 zoned for South Cumberland.
Stone Elementary has 57 students attending from out-of-zone, with 4 zoned for Brown Elementary, 11 zoned for Crab Orchard, 10 zoned for Homestead, 17 zoned for Martin, 3 zoned for North Cumberland, 7 zoned for Pleasant Hill, and 5 zoned for South Cumberland.
There are three students out of zone at CCHS and four students out of zone at Stone Memorial High School. VanWinkle told the committee senior students were permitted to stay with their class should their family move during their senior year.
A work session regarding building issues and priorities has not yet been set.