Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Briley's suggested "pause" on construction of planned Bellevue High meets with major political push back.

The Metro School Board has already invested over $10 million on the project to replace the aging Hillwood High with  a new high school in Bellevue, including demolishing an old church on the Bellevue site. Construction is ready to begin soon on a project that has been years in the planning.  Briley's proposal to "pause" the project went over like a lead balloon in Bellevue.

Briley proposed the "pause" in a speech a campaign event hosted by  The Equity Alliance, Pumps & Politics and The Lab.  In his speech, Briley said he is committed to improving the quality of education in the northwest section of Davidson County, but also wants to address inequity in Nashville's southeast section. If I had to bet, I would wager that this was not a thought out policy position but something Briley said off the top of his head knowing it would please the audience to whom he was speaking.

“Now that may mean we have to wait for a new high school in Bellevue," Briley said.  "Because that is the fundamental choice the city is going to have to make in the next few years. Are we going to build a high school in Bellevue tomorrow? Are we going to focus on the needs of the other parts of the community? We don't have unlimited resources. We have to prioritize to make sure you're focusing on the issues of equity."

Briley's statement has met with opposition across the political spectrum including Metro Council members Dave Rosenberg, Sharon Hurt and Sheri Weiner, school board member Amy Frogge and state Rep. Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville, and Metro Council member Dave Rosenberg. 

Rosenberg who was recently re-elected to a second term, said his main reason for running was to get the new school built. He had stayed out of the mayor's race up until this point but has now endorsed Cooper.  “I was content, out of respect for constituents who are supporting both candidates, to sit out and quietly cast my vote, but now this has become an issue where my constituents need to know that if the mayor is re-elected then something that's very important to the families out here is in jeopardy,” Rosenberg said.  

Briley has tried to walk back the statement. “Mayor Briley knows that our education spending needs to be carefully analyzed each year to ensure we are spreading equity throughout the district,” said  campaign spokesperson Morey Hill. “There are currently no plans to pause or stop the construction of the new Hillwood school.”

That walk back will probably not help him.

To see the source of the quotes and learn more about how it came to be that a new high school is planned for Bellevue, and more about the political fall out, follow these links:

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