Columbia County school board members held off on approving a zoning plan for a new elementary school on Mullikin Road at a Tuesday meeting.
Schools Superintendent Tommy Price introduced to trustees a plan that rezones some pupils currently attending Riverside, Greenbrier and Stevens Creek elementary schools to the new school.
Board member Lee Muns, who opted not to run for re-election this year and attended his last school board meeting as a trustee on Tuesday evening, asked the board to table the decision until Wayne Bridges could vote.
Trustee Bridges was in San Francisco earlier this week on business.
Although the board was only supposed to give tentative approval to the plan on Tuesday, Muns said he still felt Bridges should be there.
"I feel like once this board gives tentative approval, that's what they'll end up going with," he said.
Board Chairwoman Roxanne Whitaker and Vice Chairwoman Mildred Blackburn agreed with Muns, and member Regina Buccafusco cast the lone vote against tabling the rezoning decision.
Price also hoped the board would go ahead and vote, saying Bridges told him he liked his plan, but said he can wait.
"It's not going to kill us if you want to table it," he said.
The board will convene a special called meeting the first week of January to swear in re-elected and new board members and vote on the zoning then, Whitaker said. Whitaker, Bridges and newly-elected board member Michael Sleeper, who will replace Muns in District 5, will be sworn in at the ceremony.
In addition to Bridges, Sleeper's presence at the vote is appropriate as well, Whitaker said.
"He represents half the people in that district," she said. "I think it's right that he vote on that."
The rezoning proposal Price made to the board could take as many as 350 pupils out of Riverside Elementary and nearly 40 out of Stevens Creek Elementary and send them to the Mullikin Road school. It would also remove almost 250 pupils from Greenbrier Elementary and divide them between Riverside and the new school.
His proposal would allow rising fifth-graders at Greenbrier Elementary to complete their elementary education at the school. It also gives a waiver to pupils currently attending Stevens Creek Elementary to remain at the school, even if their area is rezoned, so they can continue receiving Spanish-language classes. Stevens Creek is the only Columbia County elementary school to offer foreign-language instruction.
That could leave as many as 30 pupils at Greenbrier Elementary to attend fifth grade and all of the pupils currently zoned in Stevens Creek. However, any new pupils moving into that school zone, if the board approves it, would have to attend the new school, Price said.
Price said the rezoning still takes into account potential pupils moving into proposed developments such as River Island on Blackstone Camp Road, Jones Crossing and Jones Mill.
"We feel like these developments do show the greatest growth potential," he said. "I don't see (Stevens Creek Elementary's) enrollment changing significantly if you take these potential growth areas out now."
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