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Lebanon school zones to change

Jared Felkins jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Mar 13, 2014 at 11:25 PM

Lebanon Special School District zoning for elementary and middle school students within the city limits will change when school resumes in the fall. 

But the changes will be minimal, affecting only about 140 of the about 3,700 students enrolled in Lebanon schools, according to Director of Schools Scott Benson. 

With the schools located in the third-fastest growing county in Tennessee, Benson said developments, such as Hamilton Springs and a subdivision beside Coles Ferry Village, inside the Coles Ferry Elementary School zone created the need for rezoning. 

“Coles Ferry is already our most populated elementary school,” Benson said. “Three areas were chosen after looking at the map for months to try and affect the least number of families as possible.”

One change includes taking an area around Kensington Road and Rancho 70 mobile home park on the west side of Lebanon from the Coles Ferry zone and putting it into the Castle Heights Elementary School zone. The two zones would then split at Lebanon Road. 

This zoning change would also affect middle schools with those students formerly in the Walter J. Baird Middle School zone now attending Winfree Bryant Middle School.

Another change includes taking an area from Highway 231 to the wood line, including Hunters Point, out of Coles Ferry zone and putting it into Sam Houston Elementary School zone. 

The third zoning change includes an area behind Walmart on the east side of Highway 231, including an area around Tater Peeler Road, to go from Byars Dowdy Elementary School zone to the Castle Heights zone. 

“We sent letters to the affected areas, had meetings at the newly zoned schools, allowed the students and parents to meet their new principals and tour the schools,” Benson said. “We are about finished with that.”

Benson said parents who did not receive a letter notifying them of the zoning changes are not affected. He said the zoning changes will be up for vote by the Lebanon Board of Education at its next meeting.

Benson said students also have the option of transferring schools, and applications would be accepted between April 1-May 1. The process includes filling out a form and returning it to the Central Office, and the request would be considered based on available space at a respective school. 

But Benson said the zoning changes should allow for future growth at all the schools. 

Benson said zoning for three elementary schools remained basically the same until about four years ago when Winfree Bryant was built and Castle Heights was converted from an upper elementary school to a traditional elementary school. Before that time, all students went from one of the three elementary schools to Castle Heights and then to Walter J. Baird. 

“Castle Heights was the one zone that would not make sense,” Benson said, referring to newcomers looking at the zoning map. “It was the only one that wasn’t in its zone.”

In February, the Lebanon school board approved a $1.7 million transfer from the debt service fund into capital projects to accommodate a classroom addition at Winfree Bryant to further create space.

“The Winfree Bryant addition is moving along as planned,” Benson said. “The bidding process [was] open until the end of February.”

Benson said construction should begin soon with a Nov. 3 projected completion date. The addition will include 10 new classrooms spread over three sections of the school.

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