More than 200 parents turned out Thursday evening to ask Gwinnett County school officials to revise redistricting boundaries as the school system prepares to open eight new schools next year.
Plans call for relocating some 9,000 students in 29 schools, most of them elementary school students. The Gwinnett school system, the largest in the state, has about 160,000 students. Parents have already submitted more than 1,000 opinion forms to the district office sounding out their feelings on the plan.
Thursday night, they got to relate their objections to the board of education.
Mary Burt of Sugar Hill said the redistricting plan would require children to attend Roberts Elementary more than four miles away, while their current school, Level Creek Elementary, is less than two miles away. Transportation would be another problem, she said, because children would have to cross Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and onto Buford Highway. Even an alternate route would be dangerous, she said.
"I think it's scary in a car," she said. "I can't imagine my kid on the bus."
Jack Price of the Morning View subdivision in Suwanee said he and his neighbors were there to keep the community together. The redistricting would split the subdivision, with as many as 60 children moving to Roberts Elementary.
"We're not so much here asking to go to a specific school," he said. "We just want to stay together wherever they decide to send our children."
Earlier this week, school planning officials made alterations in their original proposal to reflect some of the early input from parents. Those changes include adjustments that would keep the Magill Elementary students in Snellville from transferring to Britt Elementary. But many Britt parents objected Thursday, saying that triggers a chain of events that keeps Britt attendance above the building's capacity, so some children will be forced to remain in trailers on the campus.
Many other parents told the board they worried for their children's education if they were transferred to decidedly inferior schools where they witnessed discipline problems.
Joel Nelson, one of the Magill Elementary parents, said that while his efforts to redraw redistricting boundaries succeeded, he was disturbed by the number of parents who worried for their children's welfare.
"It hurts me that there are people up here that are downing schools in our county," he said. "There's something wrong with that. I would like for you to look and see why these schools are being talked down."
School planners will take Thursday's comments and make adjustments where they can, said school spokeswoman Sloan Roach. If revisions are made again, they will be posted on the district's Web site, www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us/, the first week of December.
The school board will vote on a final plan Dec. 10.