By ZACH HARMUTH
The Williamson County Commission Education Committee approved a resolution on Monday night which would give the old Columbia State Community College campus off Hillsboro Road to Williamson County Schools.
The quit-claim deed would transfer the 7.4-acre property and the building on it, both of which the county had previously purchased from Columbia State, to the school system for use as classroom space.
The County Commission will vote on the resolution on Nov. 13.
The 74,000-square-foot facility could add 416 students to the capacity of Franklin High School, which is adjacent to the property, according to Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney.
The nine existing classrooms at the former Columbia statecampus will be reconfigured in two phases, according to Looney. The first, to be completed next fall, will ready the current space for use. The second phase, to be ready for the fall of 2018, will involve remodeling of the rest of the space to be used, provided funding is secured.
The current Franklin High School, and other high schools in the system, are over capacity by about the amount of an additional high school. A just-presented master plan aims to increase high school capacity to 2,200 across the board.
Franklin High School’s current capacity is 1,580 and its current enrollment is nearly 200 students more than that.
WCS projections show this will only get worse, with up to 10,000 new students projected over the coming five years, according to a county consultant study.
The Columbia State project is part of the $9 million Franklin High School master plan, presented to the school board last week. The plan will most likely be worked over in committee next month at the county level.
“We are going to have to try to be creative with funding the need for new schools,” District Three County Commissioner Matt Milligan said. “We are going to be given presentations that are really going to give a clear overview of what is coming and why and when. That, as the county, will help us figure out how.”
The question for the county when it bought the land back last November for a symbolic fee, was whether to give the land to the Williamson County Animal Center or the school district.
“The big tension was animal control or schools,” District Nine County Commissioner Todd Kaestner said. “But the better use is for schools is the consensus. Franklin High is pretty landlocked where it is.”