CLEARWATER — Safety Harbor parents resoundingly opposed the Pinellas County School District's rezoning plan at a listening session held at Countryside High School Thursday night.
The plan would add 45 students from Dunedin Highland Middle School to Safety Harbor Middle School next year.
Marshall Touchton, school district demographer, presented the rationale for rezoning to about 100 parents, saying the approach involved catering to class size limits, magnet programs and overcrowding.
"We do it so we don't have too many students in any zone," he said.
About 20 parents spoke after the presentation. None was convinced.
Safety Harbor Mayor Andy Steingold said many of parents' concerns stem from the perceived disciplinary issues with students from Dunedin Highland Middle.
"We're basically going to be getting the children from Dunedin who have disciplinary problems," he said.
Richard Ireland, who has a sixth-grader at Safety Harbor Middle, said he believes the board is trying to mitigate problems by spreading them around.
"They're taking the troublemakers and splitting them up," he said.
Board vice chairwoman Robin Wikle was the only board member in attendance. Afterward, she said she appreciated the parents' passion and would take their concerns back to the board.
"A parent has to be the best advocate for their student," she said.
The proposed rezoning would affect about 900 middle and high school students across the county, affecting five of 15 high schools and 12 of 16 middle schools.
The board will discuss the issue at Tuesday's meeting. The final vote is scheduled for Feb. 22.
Two more listening sessions are planned: Feb. 17 at John Hopkins Middle School and again at Countryside High School on Feb. 21.
Both sessions are set to begin at 7 p.m.