CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Parents erupted in anger during the Chesapeake School Board meeting Monday night, after board members voted unanimously in favor of new attendance zones.
“Option 1” involves reassigning a portion of Hickory Middle School to Hugo Owens Middle School, and a portion of Hugo Owens Middle School to Deep Creek Middle School. “Option 4” moves a portion of Great Bridge Middle School students to Hugo Owens Middle, some Hickory Middle students to Great Bridge Middle, and some Hickory High School students to Great Bridge High.
The changes will go into effect for the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
“I think everyone here is pretty much heartbroken,” said Kim Lee, a parent and Vice President of the Hugo Owens PTA.
Lee was among 50 people who signed up to speak ahead of the vote. Just about every speaker urged the board to strike down all four proposals.
People raised concerns over bus transportation and disrupting learning environments.
Some people stated that rezoning might be necessary, but they called the board’s proposals “band-aid solutions” and requested that officials start from scratch with an independent consultant.
But in the end, the board voted for rezoning as a means to even out attendance levels. Some schools in the district are crowded, while others are under capacity.
“We have to look at what’s best for the entire school district,” said Board Chairman Jeff Bunn. “I totally understand change is hard… but if the parents are gonna be supportive, the kids are gonna be successful.”
Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors will have the option to remain at their current schools, but they will not be provided transportation.
After the vote, some parents stood and shouted, accusing board members of having made up their minds prior to the hearing.
“It was already decided before we walked in,” said Justin Neuman.
Neuman’s 10-year-old son was among the speakers on Wednesday. He had hoped to join the robotics team at Hugo Owens Middle next year, but will now be sent to Deep Creek. Neuman said Deep Creek Middle doesn’t offer robotics.
“Now the one thing that he enjoys doing… they took that away from him tonight.”
— Liz Kilmer (@LizKilmerTV) October 30, 2017
— Liz Kilmer (@LizKilmerTV) October 31, 2017
Parent Rhonda Kundrat was among the parents who said they plan to vote board members out.
“I’m not gonna be silent, my neighbors are not gonna be silent,” she said. “Nobody in here is gonna be silent.”
During the public hearing, many others also called out city council, accusing members of causing school overcrowding issues by approving certain housing development.