PHOTO: Silver Stream residents mingle after Monday night’s Williamson County Schools Board of Education meeting, where a rezoning proposal for Mill Creek Elementary School failed. / Photo by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
After 4½ months of drafting and presenting a plan that would ease crowding at Mill Creek Elementary School by adding some of its students to neighboring Nolensville Elementary, Williamson County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney and his staff saw their proposal voted down Monday night at the WCS Board of Education meeting.
Voting was split 6-6 among members, falling one vote shy of approving the plan. It called for the rezoning of over 200 kids from the Silver Stream subdivision who attend Mill Creek Elementary to Nolensville Elementary next year.
Looney said during the lengthy discussion on the matter that if the votes aren’t there, it means going back to the drawing board.
“We’ll hit it hard and heavy starting tomorrow,” he told the Franklin Home Page after Monday’s meeting ended. “I have no clue right now what our strategy is going to be, but obviously the board wants to look at some other options and we’ll try to propose some.”
With explosive growth in Williamson County the past several years, the school board has had to face rezoning measures several times. But this one may have been particularly contentious because it would have involved the removal of a whole neighborhood from a school families had come to treasure. Representatives from Silver Stream, many in blue T-shirts with the neighborhood name in white, have attended every public event having to do with the rezoning.
They’ve expressed a strong kinship with Mill Creek, a school they truly see as a part of their neighborhood. And a paved trail that allows their children to walk and bike to school safely more or less exemplifies that quality of life element.
“Obviously, we’re relieved,” said Silver Stream resident Rebecca Abel, parent of a third-grader at Mill Creek. We’re curious to see what will happen next for Nolensville because it does concern the entire community. But for our neighborhood to maintain the walkability, safe route to school, … that’s the outcome we all wanted. We’re all very pleased with that.”
Nearly every board member had their say during discussion that lasted almost an hour. Gary Anderson, board chairman whose 5th District includes Silver Stream, said he would be voting against the proposal partly because the plan set a new precedent.
“[This rezoning] is different than any others we’ve had,” he said. “We are moving an existing subdivision that is totally built out and actually touches school property lines and is within walking distance. We’ve never done that before.”
Anderson was one of six to vote no, the others being Angela Durham, 1st District, Brad Fiscus, 4th, Jay Galbreath, 6th, Candy Emerson, 8th, and KC Haugh, 11th. Voting yes were Dan Cash, 2nd, Eliot Mitchell, 3rd, Sheila Cleveland, 7th, Rick Wimberly, 9th, Eric Welch, 10th, and Nancy Garrett, 12th.
Looney said he wasn’t surprised by the result.
“I’ve been talking individually with the board members and know they were really struggling with it,” he said. “There are no easy answers, and so if we don’t rezone that community or specific neighborhood, we’ll be rezoning somebody else and they’ll be here as well. That’s how this business works.”
Meanwhile, the board did approve by a 12-0 vote on the other rezoning proposal involving Oak View Elementary and the elementary school opening later this year on Gosey Hill Road.