Columbia County school administrators presented their middle-school rezoning proposal to a crowd during a public hearing at Evans Middle School Thursday.
The middle school boundaries are being rezoned in preparation for the opening of the county's eighth middle school, Stallings Island, in August. More than 1,100 pupils will be affected by the rezoning.
The rezoning of the area east of Flowing Wells Road to the Richmond County line from Evans Middle to Lakeside Middle brought shouts of "no" from the audience, which filled one side of the gym.
One audience member complained that parents were not getting enough input in the rezoning proposal, and another said some children are being rezoned to schools that have lesser academic standards than their current schools.
Superintendent Charles Nagle rejected that argument.
"All of our schools made AYP last year. Academically, all of our schools are performing," he said.
School administrators have been fielding phone calls and e-mails from parents since the original rezoning proposal was announced in December. Parents also have been able to fill out comment forms that were available at two public hearings about the proposal.
Many parents at the meeting were unhappy about the rezoning of the area east of Flowing Wells Road to the Richmond County line from Evans Middle to Lakeside Middle. This proposal will affect about 150 pupils.
"We did not rezone when we relocated the (Evans Middle) building," said Robert Jarrell, the assistant superintendent of student support. "So in reality, we're rezoning two middle schools."
Freda Judy, who lives in the Flowing Wells Road area, has a daughter who will be in sixth grade next year and she will attend Lakeside, rather than Evans.
"To me, it doesn't make sense to transport them on Bobby Jones and Columbia Road," she said.
Jarrell said the Flowing Wells Road area is about 9 miles from Evans Middle, but only 2.6 miles from Lakeside Middle.
Judy has another daughter who will be in 11th grade, and she also was concerned about the effect of the middle-school rezoning on the high schools.
She objected to the rezoning for another reason also.
"They don't want it," she said of her children, "so I don't want it."
The most significant change to the proposal was an option to rezone about 50 pupils who live between Louisville Road and Appling-Harlem Highway to Harlem Middle. Under the original proposal, this area was being rezoned from Greenbrier Middle to Grovetown Middle.
Nagle also said children would not be permitted to remain at the same school even if their parents drove them there.
Jarrell said the main goals of rezoning are to eliminate portable classrooms, relieve overcrowded schools and balance middle-school enrollment.
In addition, Nagle said these zones will need to remain in place until the school system can build another middle school, which likely would not happen until 2010 or 2011.
The superintendent will make a recommendation about the rezoning proposal to the school board at its Jan. 22 meeting.
Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said the board likely will make its final decision at that time.
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