Aiken County BOE weighing options for overcrowding, parents oppose rezoning

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – A local school district is working to overcome crowded classrooms.

During a town hall meeting in March, Aiken County school leaders debunked rezoning rumors in the Midland Valley area.

Now, that district’s school board representative has called a second community meeting.

At the first meeting, Wesley Hightower assured many upset parents that he’s against rezoning. He also explained the Board of Education has not made any decisions about splitting up the district.

There are 8 schools in Aiken County that makeup District 3.

Schools like Byrd Elementary and Midland Valley High top the list of facilities, that are pushing capacity.

Still, the district doesn’t have money in the budget to pay for additions to these structures.

“There has to be something on the referendum to add more money to the one cent sales tax on our next ballot,” said parent Kim Martin.

Despite the numbers proving these schools are ready to burst at the seams, the thought of dividing up the district, to make room, is not sitting well with many parents.

“So you don’t think that rezoning at all should be in the mix?” Asked WJBF NewsChannel 6’s Stefany Bornman.

“No I do not,” Martin said.

“Their process shouldn’t be where can we put them, it needs to be how can we accomodate them here.” Sarah Rooney, another Aiken County parent, told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

Martin says overcrowded classrooms are not a new issue in Aiken and she feels most of the problem is that for years, the Board of Education has ignored District 3.

“I feel like they’re not listening to the parents,” Martin told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “They say they are, they are having these meetings, but I still feel like they are not listening, because if they were listening they would have listened 10 years ago, when these reports came out and said that Midland Valley will be the largest growing area.”

Martin says the solution is to add more classrooms, but she’s okay with rezoning within Area 3.

However, like Martin, many parents are opposed to sending their children into another district within the county.

“Right now honestly, Area 3 does need to rezone their elementary schools. The way they do have the elementary schools setup, you can clearly see that there are some issues, that clearly need to be taken care of.” Martin said.

“I feel like instead of taking the easy way out and trying to shift them elsewhere, the district should be putting money into the growing schools in the area.” Rooney said.

The community meeting is Thurs., May, 18th at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of Midland Valley High School.

WJBF NewsChannel 6 did reach out to Wesley Hightower, we have yet to get a response.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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