Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Marys Parents Vow to Never Stop Fighting Rezoning; the Superintendent Is Not Seeing the Plan Changing Very Much

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Marys Parents Vow to Never Stop Fighting Rezoning; the Superintendent Is Not Seeing the Plan Changing Very Much

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

ST. MARYS - Schools Superintendent Will Hardin told a crowd of 80 parents Monday night that a proposal to rezone elementary school attendance zones in St. Marys is "not written in stone."

He gave little encouragement, however, to parents upset about the plan to bus 177 Mary Lee Clark Elementary School pupils more than 3 miles to Crooked River Elementary School. Many of the children who would be affected live within walking distance of Mary Lee Clark. Parents of Mary Lee Clark students have demonstrated against the plan and said they prefer that their children remain in an overcrowded school rather than board buses for another.

"The numbers are very difficult to get away from," Hardin said. "I don't anticipate the proposal changing very much."

He told the audience the proposed zones were created by school administrators, not elected school board members.

"You can point your finger at me," Hardin said.

Board of Education Chairman Herb Rowland said the board did not draw the new district lines. His job, he said, is to vote to accept or reject the proposal created by school administrators.

"I wouldn't want to vote until we get all the input and hear the superintendent's recommendation," he said.

If the board rejects the plan, new district lines will have to be drawn to balance elementary school enrollment in the city and create room for growth, school officials said.

Socioeconomics was considered when the new zones were created, Hardin said. All children in the city with learning problems are sent to St. Marys Elementary, pupils with specific learning disabilities are sent to Crooked River Elementary and those with physical ailments are sent to Sugarmill Elementary.

And 60 percent of pupils at Crooked River Elementary qualify for free lunches, he said.

"We have a significant imbalance here," he said. …

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