Never mind that the Pasco County School Board meeting started at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, when classes were getting started.
Dozens of Hudson Elementary School teachers, staff members and supporters, along with a smaller contingent of Mittye P. Locke Elementary, turned out to urge the board not to close their schools, as the administration has recommended.
The idea to shutter the campuses as part of a reorganization of west-side schools is part of a workshop agenda. The people in the audience coordinated their work schedules with others at their schools to ensure they would have a presence at the morning session.
"Our team pulled together," Hudson instructional coach Erin Senior said. "We wanted to have a voice here."
That voice is to inform the board members of the value their schools bring to the predominantly low-income students they serve, and their communities.
"I'm so afraid if they go to another school, they won't go to school," said Audrey Sly, a Hudson instructional assistant who has worked at the school 24 years. "This is their safe zone."
Locke Elementary kindergarten teacher Kelly Rutherford came with her family to the meeting, including her daughter Elizabeth. The school is named after her grandmother.
"It's important for our community," said Elizabeth Rutherford, who attended the school and later volunteered there and now substitute teaches there. "It doesn't make sense why our school needs to be closed so charter schools and magnet schools can be built, that our students may not get into."
Board members said they have been studying the district's proposal, including visiting the campuses and interviewing staff.
Chairwoman Alison Crumbley said she welcomed their attendance at the board meeting.
"That's what they should be doing, if they're passionate about it," Crumbley said.
Vice chairwoman Colleen Beaudoin said she wanted to hear from everyone involved.
"This doesn't have to be, I don't think, an all or nothing," Beaudoin said. "I have a lot of questions."
The workshop is scheduled to begin after the board's business session.