November 30, 2017
By JAMES EVANS
Rutherford County Schools
The need for new schools and additions has never been greater, as Rutherford County Schools continues to see its student enrollment swell year-over-year.
To help address those needs, the Rutherford County Board of Education has adopted an updated building plan for new facilities over the next five years.
The School Board typically meets in November each year to review and revise its building plan, which is then forwarded to the Rutherford County Board of Commissioners for funding consideration.
During the past year, the school district has added 1,200 students and now has a total enrollment of more than 45,000 students in grades prekindergarten through 12th grade.
To put that figure in perspective, elementary and middle schools are typically designed to serve a maximum of 1,000 students, which means the district has grown by more than one new school this year. In addition, the district relies on 146 portable “trailer-style” classrooms to accommodate students.
“Fourteen of our schools have enrollment increases of 4 percent or more this year,” Director of Schools Don Odom explained during the building plan meeting on Nov. 29. “That’s significant growth. But eight of the 14 schools have enrollment increases in one year of more than 6 percent.
“That’s what we’re looking at tonight when we’re developing where we need buildings and where we need seat capacities,” Odom added. “Certainly those clusters that have the highest enrollment growth are the ones we have to pay attention to.”
Over the next five to six years, the adopted plan calls for nine new schools and 11 additions, land acquisitions or other facility improvements
The plan also features changes to how the next elementary and middle schools will be constructed. The district’s Engineering and Construction Department has worked with its architects so new elementary and middle schools will feature a two-story design. Doing so will save the county money by requiring less acreage for new schools and will provide other cost-saving opportunities, such as the need for less metal roofing material.
Currently, the district already builds two-story high schools — such as Siegel High, Stewarts Creek High and the under-construction Rockvale High School. The district also used a two-story design for John Colemon Elementary School — which opened in January — but it did so because of the uniqueness of the land available for the school.
Although some of the projects have already been funded and are under construction, the total price for the adopted five-year plan is $434 million.
School Board Chairman Jeff Jordan expressed concerns that the State of Tennessee does not provide any funding for school construction. Currently, funding for capital projects must be funded by local sources, typically through bond issues.
A mechanism should be in place for the state to help districts that are experiencing explosive population growth, as has been the case for nearly two decades in Rutherford County. Jordan said.
“The needs are obvious,” Jordan said.
The school district will next take its building plan to the County Commission, which will begin reviewing the funding requests through its committee structure.
The revised adopted Rutherford County Schools Building Plan calls for the following projects and acquisitions:
- Oakland Middle School sixth-grade annex - December 2018
- Siegel High School addition - December 2018
- LHS/SHS Restroom / Concessions - 2018
- Land acquisition for 2-3 schools in south Murfreesboro - 2018
- Land acquisition for 3 schools in 840/Highway 96 corridor - 2018
- Rockvale High School - August 2019
- Elementary school for south Murfreesboro - August 2019
- Rocky Fork Elementary School - August 2019
- Land acquisition for two schools Highway 231 N area - 2019
- Rock Springs Elementary addition - August 2019
- Middle school for south Murfreesboro - August 2020
- Middle school for Highway 231 N area - August 2020
- LaVergne Middle School addition - August 2020
- Elementary school for 840/Highway 96 area - August 2021
- Middle school for 840/Highway 96 area - August 2021
- Roy Waldron Elementary School addition - August 2021
- Middle school for south side area - August 2022
- High school for 840/Highway 96 area or Buchanan - August 2023