Over 300 students in Columbia County could be impacted by rezoning

Over 300 students in Columbia County could be impacted by rezoning
Student working on homework (Source: Lex Juarez)

COLUMBIA COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - A total of 329 students across all grade levels could be taking classes at new schools next year, because of proposed rezoning that is being brought to the board of education for approval. Of the 329 students, 177 live in Bartram Trail neighborhood. Although some parents and students do not mind the possibility of being moved to a new school, the majority want to stay in the schools they are zoned for right now.

There are many reasons that parents and students say they do not want to be rezoned; the main ones being that they do not want kids to have to start over in a new place and do not want to deal with a longer commute or new curriculum at the new schools. One family, the Millers, just moved to Bartram Trail five months ago. They said they moved there specifically so that their kids would attend Lewiston Elementary School, Columbia Middle School and Grovetown High School. With the proposed rezoning, kids would go to Parkway Elementary School, Evans Middle School and Greenbrier High School, respectively. Jennifer Miller said, “We didn’t move to this neighborhood to be ripped out of one place to another and another. It’s not good for my children, and I can’t have that happen to them.”

Miller said that moving to a new town and school this year has already put her kids through enough emotionally. She said that just hearing the news that this might happen has caused a lot of distress in her home. She said, “It’s an emotional toll on them.” These are not the only kids in the neighborhood who are not happy with this proposed plan. Sebastian Rivera, a freshman at Grovetown High School, said he and his friends have talked about it a lot at school.

Rivera said, “I’d have to start finding new ways at Greenbrier and I’ve already started at Grovetown and I’d like to finish there, instead of going over there to Greenbrier.” He said it would not be the end of the world, but added multiple times that it could cause a setback for him and his friends. These setbacks would involve both sports and class curriculum.

Rivera is on the engineering pathway at Grovetown High School. This is a pathway that Rivera’s parents said is not offered at Greenbrier. Rivera said if he had to go to Grovetown, he is not sure what classes he would take, or how that would impact his chances of getting into college. For Miller’s oldest daughter, who is almost fluent in German, the fact that Grovetown offers German and Greenbrier does not makes the possibility of rezoning that much worse for her. In addition to the differing curriculum, the commute from Bartram to Grovetown is significantly shorter than from Bartram to Greenbrier. Parents told FOX 54 reporter that although it is only four more miles to Greenbrier, it could add on 20-30 minutes.

The proposal lists 11 schools that may be either losing or gaining students. It says that the main reason for the rezoning is to fill the new elementary school in North Harlem. In addition, the proposal says that the rezoning will reduce and balance enrollment counts in high growth areas of Grovetown and Harlem, and also reduce the need for portable classrooms. Penny Jackson, the Assistant Superintendent for Columbia County Schools, said, “Even though change is not popular and it’s not easy, in our case, we are very fortunate that a move is a good situation. All of our schools are going to try their best to make that transition as smooth as possible.” Jackson added that all schools offer the same AP courses and that students can take courses at other high schools if their school does not offer what they need. She also said waivers have been offered by the board of education in the past when rezoning has occurred.

You can see the full details of the proposal here. Columbia County Schools welcomes anyone with feedback or questions to email them at zoning@ccboe.net.

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