CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Hundreds attended a school board meeting Monday night, with many voicing concerns over proposals to rezone some of the city’s middle schools.
According to division officials, Hickory Middle School is overcrowded; 1,618 students attend, while the school’s capacity is 1,300.
During the meeting, board members were presented with three options to move students from Hickory to other middle schools, some of which, have not reached capacity.
Fifty people signed up to weigh in during the meeting, with nearly every person urging board members to vote against rezoning.
“Emotionally, it’s hard pulling kids and uprooting them all the time,” said Shawna Hulen, a mother of five.
Hulen told 10 On Your Side that her family chose to move to the Hickory district specifically for the schools’ reputation.
“The ratings… the testing. Everything was through the roof,” she said.
Hulen’s son, Carson, stated that his seventh grade classes don’t feel crowded.
Of the three outlined options, two would impact four middle schools in total. Hickory kids wouldn’t be the only to switch schools.
During the meeting, each option was broken down with a set of pros and cons, addressing stability overtime, demographic effects and other criteria.
Parents raised a plethora of concerns, from questioning whether buses would be able to safely navigate new routes, to how kids with special needs would be impacted. Some suggested that the entire city be rezoned, if rezoning is truly necessary.
“If they have to rezone… at least, we would like it to be fair for everyone,” said John McIntyre, President of the Ravenna Homeowners Association Board.
One woman made a case for rezoning, but requested that board members “maximize existing resources” and ensure “the equity for all students of Chesapeake” if choosing to do so.
After the public forum, several board members assured families that they have the students’ best interest in mind.
A final decision will be voted on at an undetermined time. School officials will schedule a public hearing prior to voting.