County schools to create plan for future growth

Xavier Smith • Dec 20, 2017 at 2:18 PM

Wilson County Schools will continue to plan for future growth in the county next year with a work session planned for Feb. 1 to create a new capital outlay plan.

Wilson County Schools spokesperson Jennifer Johnson said the plan would be designed to accommodate the projected rapid growth in Wilson County. Johnson said the district’s current capital outlay plan would be finished with the completion of a future Mt. Juliet high school on North Green Hill Road.

Wilson County Planning Office director Tom Brashear said last year projects show the county’s population would increase from the 2015 estimated population of 131,060 to at or near 222,490 people by 2040.

Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright discussed future housing developments in Wilson County during Monday’s Wilson County Commission meeting.

“That is something we have to keep on our radar, because with those approvals, we are talking about boys and girls that will be coming with that,” said Wright, noting more than 10,000 units are planned throughout Wilson County within the next two to five years.

Johnson said the district typically plans for student population to grow 500-600 students annually. Wright said 515 students joined the district following last summer, and more joined since the first day of school in August.

“At the same time, given the large number of development projects that are currently on the table, we’re going to have to re-evaluate and adjust to meet those needs, and we’re currently in the process of doing that,” Johnson said.

Johnson said school systems across the country estimate two and a half students for every new home, but that number has been lower in Wilson County.

“It’s important that we plan for growth, based on information that’s more specifically aligned with what’s happening locally, instead of using some arbitrary national figure,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the district and school board would determine which areas of the county need new schools during the February work session. She said the district would key on areas experiencing the most housing growth.

“Our goal is to build new schools in the places it makes the most sense from a population standpoint,” Johnson said.

Johnson said it would make sense for the district to purchase land for future growth now, but there are some obstacles and challenges to overcome with that process.

“I’m not sure how successful we would be at trying to get approval for projects that are two decades down the road. It’s also worth noting that there are inherent risks associated long-range planning,” she said. “If recent history has taught us anything, it’s how quickly growth patterns can change.”

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