PHOTO: Franklin Alderman Bev Burger, Ward 1, told members of the FSSD Board of Education that allowing parents of schoolchildren in Hadden Hall would be a win-win. // Photo by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
The resident who spearheaded a petition that sought to give parents in a section of McKay’s Mill the opportunity to choose which school their children would attend said Monday night’s vote by the Franklin Special School District’s Board of Education would ultimately change the demographics of the community.
Norris Alderson, a resident of the Hadden Hall community in McKay’s Mill who led the petition drive, which at first asked the Tennessee State Legislature to redraw the boundaries of the neighborhood so students could attend schools in the Williamson County Schools district instead of those in the FSSD, told the Franklin Home Page Tuesday morning that the board’s vote means Hadden Hall will “become the community of no children.”
The vote taken Monday night was 5-0 on the resolution that read, “To continue to recognize the current school district boundaries between the Franklin Special School District and Williamson County Schools, and to not release FSSD students to enroll and attend schools in WCS.”
Board member Kevin Townsel, a city of Franklin employee, recused himself due to a potential conflict of interest.
“If you look at the statistics of people who have moved out in the last four years, that’s the reason they’ve moved,” Alderson said, referring to the fact that families in Hadden Hall are zoned for Liberty Elementary and Freedom Intermediate and Middle schools in the FSSD. “And the ones who have moved in are families who don’t have any children. That’s the reality of what’s happening.”
Those who signed the petition — approximately 79 of the 95 homeowners in Hadden Hall did sign — were told the matter should be settled between the two school districts and not at the state level. Therefore, Alderson said, the focus was on asking the FSSD board to allow parents to have a choice.
“All we were asking for last night is that FSSD agree to let parents of Hadden Hall students to decide where they want their kids to go to school,” said Alderson, who attended Monday’s meeting but didn’t speak. “The boundaries would stay in place and the property taxes would not change.
“Williamson County Schools had agreed to accept our children.”
The WCS Board of Education did briefly discuss the matter at a recent work session, and there was a general consensus to allow students to enroll in WCS schools if the FSSD allowed them to leave the district, but there was no vote or official policy passed.
At Monday’s meeting, board members heard from Franklin Alderman Bev Burger and a resident of Hadden Hall, Adam Craft, both asking that parents in the community be given the choice of which school district.
“It would be a very simple but non-disruptive change,” said Burger, whose Ward 1 includes Hadden Hall. “It’s about options, it’s about choices, it’s a win-win. As a representative of Ward 1, I support and do ask that you allow the parents to have the simple option, a choice.”
But board members and FSSD Director of Schools David Snowden were apprehensive.
“Obviously, the concern would be if you release students to Williamson County Schools from a split neighborhood, I would anticipate that other neighborhoods are going to request the same,” Snowden said.
Robert Baird agreed, saying the issue needs to be part of a greater conversation.
“We need a solution to cover all the neighborhoods,” he said. “I’d like to see us continue working with Williamson County Schools for a solution with them because it does affect them as well as our students. We need to deal with it as a total issue.”
Robin Newman, who made the motion to approve the resolution, said giving parents an option would create a new set of challenges.
“I think when we’re discussing parents having options, we need to remember that we have zone schools and zone districts for reasons for planning, for budgeting,” she said. “And to able to choose what school you could go to could create a lot of havoc.”