After an onslaught of complaints from La Vergne residents Thursday, the Rutherford County Commission decided to re-examine the proposed zoning map for the new School Board and Road Board districts.
Commissioner Steve Sandlin addresses La Vergne Mayor Senna Mosley during the Rutherford County Commission meeting Nov. 17, 2011, about the proposed School Board district map. (TMP/M. Kemph)
Commissioner Carol Cook (Dist. 5) of La Vergne proposed a resolution to take another look at the zoning map, in response to the harsh criticism.
“I’m very happy the County Commission took the opportunity to re-evaluate, the map,” said La Vergne resident Jason Cole.
Cole said the new zones would affect everyone in the county. He added residents from other cities should be just as concerned about the proposal.
The zones are being changed as a result of redistricting, which is required by federal and state law every 10 years when the U.S. Census is conducted. The current proposal splits the northern Rutherford County city into three different School Board zones.
Some citizens said they are unhappy that the city’s School Board zones would be split up among other parts of the county, like Milton, Lascassas and Eagleville. La Vergne residents told commissioners they want to be one area that would give them the opportunity to have a School Board member from La Vergne to represent their schools.
“I am perplexed as to how the zones are grouped,” said La Vergne resident Ivory Brown, who has three children enrolled in Rutherford County Schools. “Some parts are nowhere near each other. The zones are not coherent.”
A few commissioners directly responded to previous statements made by La Vergne residents earlier in the meeting. At one point, Commissioner Steve Sandlin (Dist. 9) of Blackman turned directly to La Vergne Mayor Senna Mosley to rebuke some of her statements made after last week’s Redistricting Committee.
“This has been a learning process, but we followed the law,” Sandlin said. “You want us to tweak it to where we’re breaking the state law, and we can’t do that.”
Sandlin added that he had talked to School Board members prior to Thursday’s meeting, and they told him the board was pleased with the current zoning proposal.
After the meeting, Mosley said she was frustrated with the commission’s attitude toward her constituents, and she was especially annoyed with Commissioner Doug Shafer (Dist. 1) of La Vergne.
“He voted against his own constituents,” Mosley said. “We will remember that.”
Residents said they have felt dismissed by the commission and are angry commissioners have “neglected to consider what is logical,” Cole said.
“Just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right,” Cole said, adding different parts of the county and different cities have different needs.
Shafer said he could not support the resolution because the deadline would not give commissioners enough time to fully re-examine the zones.
“I don’t know if we can get a good answer in three weeks,” Shafer said.
Commissioner Robert Stevens (Dist. 12) of Smyrna, who was quite vocal about the issue at the Steering and Legislative Committee meeting, remained silent during the discussion.
During an interview Friday, Stevens said he was happy with the vote.
“We just want to make sure that what we’ve got is the right plan,” Stevens said. “To me, spending more time on this issue is a no-brainer. (The) vote also showed that people (could) get involved in the process.”
School projects also approved
The County Commission also appropriated funds to begin construction of Stewarts Creek High School and begin Phase II of a multiphase project to renovate Eagleville School.
Resolutions for both the building of Stewarts Creek High School and expansion at Eagleville School were written by Commissioner Jeff Jordan (Dist. 13) of Murfreesboro.
The Stewarts Creek construction will cost nearly $50 million and is expected to open for the 2013 school year.
“It’s a very exciting time, especially for someone in the seventh or eighth grade out there because they will get to go to a brand new facility,” Jordan said.
The $3.7 million Eagleville renovation is expected to be completed by fall 2012, which will be followed by another phase that will add an auditorium and band room.
Jordan said he wrote the resolution to expand Eagleville School because he said it is in desperate need of classrooms.
“Everybody in that building goes to a portable at some time during the day,” Jordan said. “We had enough money to get them out of some of those portables.”
Eagleville School has more than 14 portable classrooms on site, significantly more than any other school in Rutherford County.
“They have to walk through the weather to go to the restroom, or if it storms, they have to all go inside the building,” Jordan said. “It’s just not a good learning environment.”
Marie Kemph contributed to this report.