Elaine Simmons: School rezoning plan flawed

Published: Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

In response to The Sun's Jan. 10 editorial titled "A hasty retreat": I do not agree with The Sun's reporting of the last public forum for rezoning. The articles implied that the group as a whole was disrespectful and racist.

I was there and listened to every comment and I feel that you have categorized the entire proceeding based on the comments of a few that did not reflect the majority.

My opposition to the plan, as others stated, was based

primarily on the fact that the plan did not make any sense! Regardless of the need to diversify or reduce numbers, the areas that were being moved appeared to be based solely on socioeconomics. The plan was not even feasible based on costs and other transportation issues. It would have

definitely been a hasty decision to proceed with this plan as it impacted a huge number of students and their families. In my opinion, it was a poorly thought out plan and would have been a huge mistake to move forward with it.

Rather than being seen as a cowardly response, I actually respect the decision by the School Board members to postpone a significantly flawed rezoning plan. I hope, as School Board members work on a new plan, they will take into consideration what the majority of the residents have communicated: We want our children to attend schools closest to their homes and community.

In response to concerns for schools with lower scores consider what many have suggested, to allocate additional resources to the schools and the teachers that need the additional support. I personally want all Gainesville schools to be great, and that begins by making our students great. That should be the goal, but we need to find a better solution than shipping our children across town to facilitate some type of ideal diversity plan.

What I feel the School Board needs to do is focus on meeting the needs of students, particularly those in the lower quarter percentile in terms of academic performance. To see those statistics improve, that would be an accomplishment! Shuffling our children around town will only serve to hide the lower performing students. Let's find a plan to help them up - not cover them up!

Based on the report there are only 81 available seats in our high schools. If that figure is correct, the School Board should also be actively and aggressively addressing a plan to build another high school for our growing community.

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