Houston parents discuss reorganization concerns

Plan would affect Parkwood, Lindsey, Westside elementary schools

jmink@macon.comDecember 10, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Houston County school officials are looking to rezone Westside, Parkwood and Lindsey elementary schools in the next academic year, shuffling the schools’ grade levels in an effort to streamline resources and place more focus on every grade level.

Under the proposal, they would become sister schools with pre-kindergarten through first grade at Parkwood, with second and third grades at Westside, and fourth and fifth grades at Lindsey.

More than 50 parents attended the first of three reorganization meetings Tuesday. Afterward, some parents said they were still processing the changes, while others voiced concerns. Those concerns mainly involved transportation and their children’s routines, parents told The Telegraph.

“I’m sure there is a good reason behind it, but we have two boys in two different grades,” said Robert Coulter of Warner Robins.

Coulter said his sons are accustomed to their school, and it takes them a while to get comfortable in new surroundings.

Similarly, Theron Brown said the reorganization could be difficult for families who have multiple children. One family could have to arrange transportation for children to three different elementary schools, she argued.

“And the children already are changing schools too often,” said Brown, who has a child at Westside.

During a presentation, officials said efficient transportation was a concern they were taking into consideration, as well as age-appropriate playground equipment at the schools.

Quailina Curry, who also has a child at Westside, said she was on the fence about the reorganization. She said she attended the meeting because she wanted to have more input.

That was the purpose of the meeting at Westside, during which parents were given a description of the proposed changes and were asked to fill out a form with any questions and concerns. Several stayed after the meeting to chat with administrators.

Similar meetings will be held Wednesday at Lindsey and Dec. 18 at Parkwood. Both meetings are at 6 p.m. A public forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 14 in Northside High School’s theater. The Board of Education will vote on the reorganization Feb. 11.

“This reorganization is something we’ve been thinking about and planning for a long, long time,” Superintendent Robin Hines told parents. “But it’s very important to us that we get your input.”

Administrators discussed why they are considering the change. Under the new model, each grade level would have more teachers and more resources, including money. Everything from lunchroom to behavior management policies would be specialized for certain grade levels, they said. Additionally, it would foster better collaboration among faculty, administrators said.

“We would be able to offer better education to our students this way,” said Parkwood Principal Janet Sorrell, who attended the meeting.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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