If you live in the western end of the county, chances are your child might be attending a different school next year.
On Tuesday, the Columbia County Board of Education tentatively approved a zoning proposal that will affect five of the system's elementary schools.
The plan pulls 442 students out of existing zones to make up the student body of the new Hereford Farm Road elementary school, which is scheduled to open for the 2003-04 school year. The school has the capacity to house 525 students.
The plan will pull students out of Bel Air, Brookwood, Martinez and North Columbia and Evans elementary schools.
The proposal was also designed to relieve overcrowding at elementary schools in that region.
Some students will be shifted from Bel Air Elementary, which now has nine portable classrooms, to Martinez and Evans elementaries.
"We are trying to get Bel Air out of the portable business," Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price said. "We are attempting to identify 191 kids to pull out of Bel Air. We've still got a lot of development going on in the Bel Air zone, but we don't see a good answer as to how we can get more out at this time."
The only time the public has had the opportunity to review the plan was at a Dec. 12 hearing. And there were no parents at Tuesday night's board meeting to comment on the plan.
"We did not have anybody to come forward with a different proposal. We felt overall, the plan had pretty good support," Price said.
He said he used parental input from the December public hearing to make one modification to the initial plan.
The change involves moving fewer students out of North Columbia, specifically those south of Louisville Road to Highway 221. That area includes 24 students who had been targeted for rezoning.
"They were adamant they did not want to be rezoned, and we would have been forcing a little further drive for them," Price said. "In all we will be pulling 68 out of that school. The new school is going to be in a growing zone so we need to leave room for growth, anyway."
Price said school officials are investigating whether the new school could offer state-lottery-funded preschool, and what effect it will have on middle school zones. The board is expected to give final approval to the zone changes when it meets Jan. 28 at the board office in Appling.
Here's a brief overview of the zoning changes:
Bel Air Elementary zone: The Bel Air zone starts at Columbia, Washington and Belair roads and continues down Columbia Road past Orchard Hill subdivision. The plan is to pull students out of the lower end of that zone - Shady Grove, Glenora and Orchard Hill subdivisions - and move those 125 students into the new school zone.
Subdivisions that open onto Hereford Farm Road would be pulled out of the Bel Air zone and placed into the Evans Elementary zone. That would pull 21 more children out of Bel Air Elementary.
Subdivisions that open on to Columbia Road near Washington Road, such as Lenox Place and Heritage Hill, would be placed into the Martinez Elementary School zone, pulling another 45 out of Bel Air Elementary.
To decrease the student population at Brookwood Elementary, that zone would be cut off behind the Lake Royal subdivision. Those areas from there to around Lewiston Road would then be included in the new Hereford Farm Road elementary school zone. In this move, 196 would be pulled out of Brookwood.
Twenty-nine students in Brandywine subdivision would be pulled out of the Evans Elementary zone and placed into the Hereford Farm Road school zone.
Thirty-one Martinez Elementary School students who live on the Interstate 20 side of Wheeler Road would transfer to Brookwood Elementary.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.