The Columbia County school board on Tuesday gave tentative approval to a new elementary school rezoning plan that excludes North Harlem Elementary.
"We didn't feel like there was any compelling reason to move North Harlem," school Superintendent Tommy Price said.
More so than any other group, North Harlem parents were vocal in their opposition to being rezoned. Some of those parents planned to protest the rezoning at the board meeting but backed off when they heard the proposal was changed to exclude them, board member Roxanne Whitaker said.
Prompted by the August opening of a new elementary school in Grovetown, the rezoning does move 234 pupils from Grovetown Elementary, 380 from Euchee Creek Elementary and 51 from Brookwood Elementary to the new school.
The original proposal would have shifted about 40 students from North Harlem Elementary's zone to Euchee Creek Elementary.
Though North Harlem was left alone, 76 pupils currently zoned for Lewiston Elementary, primarily living in the area west of Chamblin Road and down Louisville Road, will move to Euchee Creek Elementary.
School trustee Mike Sleeper asked whether moving just 76 pupils was enough to ease overcrowding at Lewiston Elementary, citing the ongoing housing development of the area.
"Someone has lit a fire in that area," he said.
Price said rapid development in much of Columbia County might necessitate new rezoning in as soon as two years, but there was no immediate need to move more pupils from Lewiston Elementary.
He also said the school board might consider building a new elementary school as soon as 2009, which is the same year a new high school is scheduled to open.
The new elementary school has not been named and is being built next to Grovetown Middle School on Harlem-Grovetown Road.
Final approval of the plan likely will come at the next board meeting Jan. 23, said Associate Superintendent Charles Nagle, who was the primary architect of the rezoning proposal.
Also at the meeting:
- The board set May 25 as the deadline for students to register for summer school. Elementary classes begin May 29, and summer school for high school and middle school students begins May 30.
- Price reported that school officials expect an enrollment growth of 680 students next school year. That will put the student population at about 22,000.
- The system will need to create 24 new teaching positions for next school year, Price said Tuesday. That figure does not include the teaching positions needed to fill out the roster of a new elementary school opening in August, he said.
- The school board voted to advertise the sale of 2.4 acres of North Harlem Elementary land. An interested buyer first approached the board about buying the land, but school officials will advertise for bids on the land to meet legal requirements.
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