Parents streamed into the Riverside Middle School gym Thursday to study proposed zoning changes for Columbia County's middle schools next year.
"We feel like this is a pretty good rezoning, and we've been working on it a long time," school Superintendent Charles Nagle told the crowd of 100 people at the first of two public hearings about the issue.
The middle schools are being rezoned to prepare for the opening of Stallings Island Middle School on Blackstone Camp Road in August. Only Harlem Middle School will be unaffected.
Nagle said the rezoning will relieve overcrowding and the use of portable classrooms at the middle schools.
Robbie Jarrell, the assistant superintendent of student support, said the rezoning criteria included current and past enrollment, transportation, creating a common high school feeder system, minimizing student disruption and keeping neighborhoods intact.
"At this point, to my knowledge, we have no split neighborhoods in the proposed zones," Jarrell said.
However, administrators emphasized that the proposed changes haven't been finalized, and they welcomed parental input.
"When it gets down to the nitty gritty, we understand that you know your neighborhood better than we do," Nagle said.
Keith Price, of Appling, said his 12-year-old twins, Trey and Hannah, would stay at Greenbrier Middle for eighth grade next year.
"Our concern is just to keep track of where they're going to go to high school," he said.
Evans resident Richard Crawford has a daughter in third grade who would remain zoned for Riverside Middle. However, he wanted to make sure the overcrowding in the schools would be relieved.
Lisa Jenkins, of Martinez, said her son, Matthew, a 12-year-old seventh-grader, would stay zoned for Lakeside next year.
"I want him to finish out at Lakeside. I was just curious as to how they came up with the zoning," she said.
The second public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at Evans Middle School, and the school board is expected to approve the final rezoning plan at the end of January.
Officials plan to notify parents about the final middle school rezoning plan in the spring.
They hope to finalize high school rezoning plans in the spring in preparation for the 2009 opening of a fifth high school on Chamblin Road in Grovetown.
Residents can reach administrators by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (706) 541-0650.
Maps of the proposed zones are available online at www.ccboe.net.
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