Why Bellevue Wants Its Own High School, Despite Warning About Diversity | Nashville Public Radio

Why Bellevue Wants Its Own High School, Despite Warning About Diversity

Jan 12, 2017

Passionate parents are blitzing the Metro school board this week in a push for Bellevue to have its own high school again.

This is not about adding capacity. If anything, upper grades in many parts of the city are under capacity. And Hillwood, which is where families from Bellevue are zoned, is on the smaller end of high schools in Nashville. It's also in one of the toniest parts of town at the edge of Belle Meade.

The problem is that nearly half the students zoned for the school live miles away in Bellevue.  

The district is weighing whether to renovate or move altogether. Realtor Keri Cannon told the school board this week that simply rehabbing Hillwood "won't solve the image problem" and will never make it the community school she'd like her kids to attend.

"I would be lying if I didn't tell you that there are constant rumors by many parents who worry what will happen as their children get closer to the high school level," Cannon said. "Sadly, our community begins to lose a lot of valuable residents to Williamson County as their children get older. I know this because I'm one of the agents who is selling their houses and helping them find new homes in Brentwood and Franklin so their kids can go to schools like Ravenwood and Centennial [high schools]."

Cannon contends that most parents don't want to move but feel like they have to because of the quality of Hillwood, which has an 89 percent graduation rate but just an 18.7 average ACT score.

Bellevue school board member Amy Frogge has led the charge to buy property from the Hope Park Church to start building a new high school in the coming years. However, a diversity report commissioned by the district says moving the school further into the suburbs will discourage black families from North Nashville from attending. They, too, are zoned for Hillwood as part of a lingering busing plan meant to desegregate the district.

Councilman and former school board member Ed Kindall, who represents North Nashville, has argued that just because the new site would be further away from his community doesn't mean drive times would be any different.

Community meetings on whether to build a high school in Bellevue are being held next week, Jan. 18 at Hope Park Church and Jan. 19 at Cheatham Place in North Nashville. Both meetings start at 6 p.m., according to the Tennessean.

The school board is scheduled to vote on whether to purchase land from the Hope Park Church Jan. 24.