Keep Schools Connected to Community
Westmeade Elementary needs a new building. MNPS is considering removing the school from its West Meade neighborhood location and rebuilding across from Bellevue Middle School or keeping it within the West Meade and Hillwood neighborhoods and rebuilding on the Hillwood High School site. In its most recent Capital Budget, MNPS has requested planning funds for the purpose of designing a new Westmeade Elementary School.
Despite its name and location, residents of the surrounding neighborhoods of West Meade and Hillwood predominantly are zoned for Gower Elementary in Bellevue. Conversely the majority of families assigned to Westmeade Elementary reside in Bellevue. We support relocating Westmeade to the Hillwood High School property and rezoning to build stronger school communities throughout the Hillwood Cluster. If Westmeade Elementary is moved to Bellevue, West Meade and Hillwood will be left with NO elementary schools and District 23 will be the only Council District in Metro Nashville without at least one elementary school, while Bellevue will have three of the four Hillwood Cluster elementary schools.
MNPS conducted a survey to gather community input regarding the rebuilding of Westmeade Elementary. More than 300 community members participated in the survey and over 80% favored keeping the school within the Hillwood-West Meade neighborhoods with more than 50% preferring rebuilding on the Hillwood High School site. See survey results here.
Should MNPS receive the requested planning money, we believe those funds should be used to study the proposed sites and any site decision should be based on the long-term health of the entire cluster, not out of short term ease. All communities should be consulted and presented options.
Why Keep Westmeade in Hillwood-West Meade?
Hillwood and West Meade residents support public schools.
More than 200 students in West Meade and Hillwood attend MNPS elementary schools.
During the Hillwood High School discussions, Special Policy language was written for the Hillwood High School property through a series of well attended meetings. Neighbors wanted the land to be preserved for education use, preferably an elementary school.
The West Meade Conservancy, a neighborhood preservationist organization, has supported Westmeade Elementary's Young Naturalists Program through curriculum development and resources.
Removing Westmeade Elementary from the Hillwood and West Meade neighborhoods is inconsistent with MNPS school siting strategy.
Brookmeade Elementary was closed, in part, due to its proximity to Gower Elementary. Removing Westmeade Elementary and placing a new school in Bellevue would place 3 elementary schools within 4 miles or less of each other.
The acreage of the Hillwood site along with the neighborhood's abundant wildlife and vegetation are better suited to Westmeade's established Young Naturalists Program and the Sustainable Academy concept embraced by the school's community.
Realignment of the current Westmeade zone would benefit students throughout the Hillwood Cluster
Shorter bus rides/travel distances for students at multiple Hillwood Cluster elementary and middle schools. Reducing travel distances by half for many students.
Even geographic distribution of the 4 Hillwood Cluster elementary schools provides long term stability with increased community support.
Schools rooted in the communities they serve create stronger schools that attract and retain students improving the educational experience from elementary through high school.