TAMPA — With crossed arms, bouncing feet and frown lines, more than 100 concerned Bay Crest area residents met with Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes Thursday night at Bay Crest Elementary School.
Because of a state-mandated class-size amendment and this fall's opening of Sgt. Paul Smith Middle School in Citrus Park in August, the district is shuffling middle school students throughout northwest Hillsborough.
Parents are worried.
Upset about the system's proposal to redistrict their community from A-rated Farnell Middle School to C-rated Webb Middle School, they came with questions:
Is Webb safe?
What's going to be done to raise Webb's grade?
How will I sell my house if we're redistricted?
Can the shift be postponed?
Webb, Valdes told them, "has challenges."
The comment pulled chuckles from an audience that remembered gang-related safety issues at the school that they said dated back to the 1970s and continue today. They wished they had been notified of the proposal sooner.
They wondered why many learned of the proposal and the night's meeting via their Bay Crest Elementary third- and fifth-graders and not from the district.
"I'm not here to change your minds," Valdes told the group.
She encouraged the group to voice their concerns to all members of the School Board.
Valdes has vowed to vote against the proposal that will rezone 145 Farnell students to Webb next school year.
The decision on whether or not to move the students will not go before the board for approval until at least April, she noted.
"We have time," she said.
Reach Amber Mobley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 269-5311.