POLL Collier School District rezoning: New maps could renew old battles

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The Collier County School District scheduled five meetings to discuss rezoning. Each meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the following locations:

■ Two meetings for parents attending elementary schools in Greater Naples are on Wednesday, Jan. 6, in the Golden Gate High School auditorium, 2925 Titan Lane, and Tuesday, Jan. 19, in the School Board meeting room of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Administrative Center, 5775 Osceola Trail.

■ A meeting for parents of students attending Immokalee elementary schools is Tuesday, Jan. 12, in the Eden Park Elementary School cafeteria, 3650 Westclox St.

■ A meeting for parents of students being rezoned to Lely or Naples High Schools is Thursday, Jan. 7, in the Lely High School auditorium, 1 Lely High School Blvd.

■ A meeting for parents of students being rezoned to Golden Gate High School is Wednesday, Jan. 13, in the Golden Gate High School auditorium, 2925 Titan Lane.

Parents who are not able to attend the meetings, can submit comments by e-mail to info@collier.k12.fl.us or call (239) 377-0180. Community input will be shared with School Board members as at their Jan. 21 and Feb. 18 meetings, which will be held at 3 p.m. at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Administrative Center.

— Parents curious to know if their child could be going to a new school next year now have their answer.

On Monday, the Collier County School District released maps of the proposed areas being rezoned so the district can meet the class size amendment.

For some neighborhoods, the proposed rezoning is all too familiar.

The district is once again proposing to rezone an area south of White Boulevard. Two years ago, the students were going to be sent to Palmetto Ridge High School and their parents fought to successfully keep them at Gulf Coast High School, citing a shorter drive for families.

This time, the district is proposing to rezone some of those students to Golden Gate High School.

Some Big Cypress Elementary School parents who successfully fought against getting rezoned to Mike Davis Elementary School two years ago may have another fight on their hands. The district is again proposing a similar rezoning.

Other rezoning proposals include taking the neighborhoods of Glen Eagle and several others west of Santa Barbara Boulevard out of Naples High School and placing them in Lely High School. An area east of Interstate 75 and south of Pine Ridge Road would be moved from Osceola Elementary School to Golden Gate Elementary School, under the district’s proposal.

Laurel Oak Elementary School could see the district’s most complicated boundary change, by accepting students from Veterans Memorial Elementary School while giving students to Vineyards, Big Cypress and Corkscrew elementary schools.

Prior to the start of winter break, parents of all Collier elementary, middle, and high school students received letters, carried home by students, regarding rezoning of schools. Though middle school students, other than some rising freshmen, will not be impacted by rezoning, the letter was sent home with them in an effort to reach all families. The letter explained the need to rezone, and included dates of all five scheduled rezoning meetings.

Superintendent Dennis Thompson has said the district isn’t looking for emotional pleas to keep students at schools. Rather, he wants to know what about the proposed rezonings works and what doesn’t for students.

“I know there is a lot of emotion over rezoning, but we have to look at what’s logical,” he said. “If there is something that we are doing that is going to be detrimental to students, we want to know about it. If their bus ride is going to be 30 minutes longer because we are rezoning them, we need to know that.”

The district needs to rezone the schools to meet the state class size amendment, which must be fully adopted by next school year. The amendment, which was passed in 2002, requires schools to keep core classes, such as English and math to a maximum of 18 to 25 students, depending on the age of the children.

To meet the requirements, the district must add 240 classes. Some schools have enough vacant classrooms but others do not. The School Board decided earlier this month to rezone students from schools with insufficient space to schools with unused classroom space.

For more information: (239) 377-0180 or info@collier.k12.fl.us.

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