Knox County Schools superintendent recommends new middle school in Hardin Valley, not Gibbs

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre is recommending a new middle school be built in the Hardin Valley community.

In a memorandum issued to the board Wednesday, McIntyre suggested using the 14 acres available on the Hardin Valley Academy campus to build a new middle school for about 1,200 students and said the school needs to be built before 2019.

Construction would cost about $33 million.

A number of families also wanted a middle school in Gibbs, but McIntyre rejected that idea, saying he could not see a need for such a facility.

More onlineFiscal Year 2016 Capital Budget and Planning Priorities

However, parents of middle school students in the Gibbs community say making the trek from Gibbs to Holston Middle School where their kids are zoned is reason enough.

“It’s miserable. They have to get up at 6:00 in the morning to get ready to go to school. And then they’re on the bus an hour each way,” said Clifton Ogle, a parent in Gibbs.

But Dr. McIntyre said the district also studied transportation patterns in the county. He says the commute from Gibbs to Holston Middle isn’t even one of the longest.

“As in many parts of our community, there are some lengthy bus rides to get there, but at the end of the bus ride, there is a great education,” he said.

Jennifer Mellon, another Gibbs parent, said it’s not all about the classroom time. One of her daughters had to ride the bus to and from Holston Middle and she says it limited her extra curricular options.

“It was a great school, great teachers, great kids. However, I feel like the drive back and forth all the time didn’t allow her to participate in things like sports or activities, clubs, that kind of thing,” said Mellon.

Dr. McIntyre said while the Gibbs community made a compelling case for the interest in a new middle school, it’s not a fiscally responsible choice.

“When you look at the data, when you look at the enrollment trends, when you look at the capacities, there isn’t a compelling need for a Gibbs middle school,” he said.

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