By ZOË WATKINS
Town halls, hosted by the Bedford County School system, were held at
Eakin Elementary and East Side Elementary to discuss rezoning for the new Cartwright Elementary, which is set to
open in the next school year, August 2024. It is located at 1753 Fairfield Pike.
Some 180 people were in attendance at Eakin’s town hall on Jan. 11. Spanish translators were available to communicate to parents how students will transition to Cartwright from Eakin. Parents got to view zoning maps posted on the gym walls.
Questions like traffic on Fairfield Pike and effects on students were asked and answered.
Superintendent Tammy Garrett, who led the Q&A, added they are not touching the zones of the middle and high school. “So wherever the current zone is for your student to go to middle and high school, they will continue to go to that middle and high school,” said Garrett.
But Eakin and East Side are where most of the students will be pulled from since they have portables.
“Our goal is eliminate portables here at Eakin, so we will have about 325 that will go,” said Garrett.
Portables are viewed negatively because of concerns over school security, internet access, and inclement weather safety to name a few reasons. “Students are safest in a brick and mortar building,” said Garrett.
Cartwright has a capacity of 800 students. But the rezoning proposal shows only 550 students will attend this fall, leaving room for growth.
“One of the things we are doing is not to fill up the school,” explained Garrett to The Post. “We have studied the planning and met with the planning commission and the city and the county to study how many building permits have been pulled.
“So we don’t want to fill it up right off the bat and build portables.”
They also have land space available at Cartwright to build another wing if needed.
This is important because Bedford County is considered one of the fastest growing districts in Tennessee. Garrett said they receive money from the state for being one of the “Fast Growing Districts,” as their growth rate is over 2%.
“They send you money to help with facilities and growth. Every year we’ve been hitting over 2%,” said Garrett.
Garrett will have been at BCS as superintendent for three years this March. She said the school system has grown by about 200-300 students per year. The current total of BCS students is about 9,100. When she came, there were about 8,600 students.
“Eventually we have to look at East Side and Southside and say, can we renovate, can we add on, or are they at the end of their life expectancy? Those kinds of evaluations that we need to do are coming up.”
She added they still have room at Cascade and Community. On the other end, Shelbyville Central presents a challenge due to growth in the city.
Despite the challenges, BCS has managed to accomplish many of their goals placed on the master building plan for the whole school system.
“We’ve really been able to tackle that. A lot of the federal money with ESSER funds (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) helped us to get there. The support of the commission has helped us to get there. But I think we’re in a great place right now to be able to tackle that growth,” said Garrett.
She said this current school board as well has been very aware of growth and tackling that need.
“All kids, everywhere, no matter your zip code or family’s income, deserve a great education,” said Garrett. “And one thing I witness everyday are the heart and soul that our educators put into these kids and our community.”
The school board will be voting on the rezoning on Thursday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m. at Central Office, 500 Madison Street. If delayed for inclement weather, the vote will be deferred to February