MOUNT PLEASANT — Some parents wept in relief and others shouted with joy after learning late Friday that elementary and middle school rezoning plans would be postponed one year.
The District 2 (Mount Pleasant) Constituent School Board planned to implement new attendance boundaries affecting every school for the 2013-14 school year, but that’s been pushed back until 2014-15.
“Oh my gosh,” gasped parent Leslie Norris when she heard about the delay. “This is the most wonderful news in the whole entire world.”
The change came at the request of parents, who said they felt blindsided when the constituent school board unveiled its two proposals at a community meeting Nov. 1. Parents said the board left out a critical voice when it developed the options without them, and they were frustrated with their lack of input, unanswered questions, and inadequacy of the rezoning alternatives.
Marty Belk, who chairs the constituent school board, said she hoped the additional year would give parents more time to adjust and buy in to these changes.
“We’ve listened, and we’re trying to work more with the community,” she said. “We’ll have more community input, and we just hope that whatever is decided will be more likely to be accepted.”
Plans had called for the new attendance zones to be finalized by January, but that has been extended until June. The constituent school board also will form a Community Advisory Team to provide additional perspective, and a meeting schedule will be posted publicly soon.
The members of that advisory team will include associate superintendents for the elementary and middle school learning communities, the Mount Pleasant city planner and traffic director, and School Improvement Council representatives from each elementary and middle school.
Although Belk said it would be ideal to delay rezoning until the new Jennie Moore Elementary and Laing Middle school buildings are finished, that’s not possible because of the overcrowding.
Parents who heard about the delay Friday were grateful and elated. A group of parents representing different neighborhoods, Unified Voice of East Cooper Communities, had been meeting nightly to work on better alternatives.
Norris has two children in Park West neighborhood schools and has been a part of that group. She said parents had real concerns, and they wanted the constituent board to take those into consideration.
“We just wanted to be a part of the solution,” she said. “What they were doing was taking children out of their communities. ... They were displacing us everywhere, and we just wanted to slow down and see how we could affect as few children as we could. This is so much more palatable and so much more fair.”
Shelli Avant was another one of the parents who had been working with the Unified Voice of East Cooper Communities. The group asked the constituent school board earlier this week to delay the decision one year to ensure the community would be heard.
Parents had so many unanswered questions, and they wanted to know the entire plan had been carefully studied from all perspectives.
“We just want to have our say, and apparently, they got that message,” she said. “That’s going to make the community thrilled.”