EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – A preliminary plan to rezone nearly 1,400 students in Columbia County was released last month. Monday night, the superintendent’s office presented the plan to parents at a meeting at Evans Middle School.
A few dozen parents attended that meeting to learn more about the complex proposal, which would affect half of Columbia County Schools but only five percent of students.
Jennifer Llamas’ daughter is one of them. Llamas says her daughter has been looking forward to going to Evans High School since she was in fifth grade.
Now, as an eight grader, she’s just learned she’s been rezoned for Lakeside. Llamas says she was shocked.
But the county has been rapidly expanding for years. Since 2000, the population has risen nearly 58 percent. In fact, it’s the 29th fastest growing county in the country.
High quality public schools may have attracted many of those people, but now, the growth is straining the school district.
“With the extreme growth that we’re experiencing…we had a rezoning just two years ago,” said Dr. Sandra Carraway, Columbia County Superintendent of Schools.
The latest rezoning proposal is hitting hardest for those whose high school destinations have changed.
“She’s inconsolable,” Llamas said of her daughter. “She’s very upset about it….she’s talked about wanting to be home-schooled. It’s like she dosen’t even want to go there because all of her friends are going to go to Evans High. And she’s going into ninth grade. and this is a pivotal time…and she shouldn’t have to be pulled away from everybody.”
Students already in high school will not be affected, but quite a few students at other schools will be.
“This rezoning is very widespread,” Dr. Carraway said. “Usually, rezonings happen when you open a new school, so you know you may affect one area, maybe two areas. In this case, we have 16 different schools being affected by this move.”
According to the plan and administrators, the complex maneuvering of students is being proposed to relieve overcrowding at four schools and make use of the space available.
But to Llamas, she says it seems arbitrary.
“It just dosen’t make any sense to me…why there’s a little bitty tiny section that dosen’t make any difference in the long-run,” she said.
Dr. Carraway says the proposal is flexible, and she wants to take the public’s input into account.
You can view the entire rezoning proposal and send feedback here.
The board will not make a decision on the rezoning map until January.
One more public rezoning meeting will be held on Monday, Dec.19 at 6 p.m. at Grovetown High School.