Visit the page for the Facebook Group Don’t Rezone Collier County Students
COLLIER COUNTY — The Collier County School Board has no doubt heard from a slew of parents about the possible rezoning of their children to new elementary and high schools as a result of the class size amendment.
Now, their kids are getting into the act.
Students are looking to fight back against the Collier County School Board’s decision to rezone them to a different school. More than 130 students have signed up to be part of the Facebook page “Don’t Rezone Collier County Students.”
One of the administrators of the Facebook page is Oakridge Middle School sixth-grader Tiffany Campbell. Although high school is still two years away for her, Tiffany has an older sister who is facing rezoning to Naples High School and two younger brothers who will be rezoned from Osceola Elementary School to Golden Gate Elementary School.
Tiffany, 12, said she is surprised at the response she has received from her fellow students.
“I am very happy that other people feel the way I do. It shows they are as upset as I am,” she said.
Tiffany said some rezoning might work in some places, but she believes the district should consider putting portables at schools with insufficient space.
“I think if you are going to be sent to a school that is below average, you should have the right to go to a school as good as (your current school),” she said.
The page also encourages students to speak out against the rezoning and to attend the 6 p.m. Jan. 13 rezoning meeting at Golden Gate High School, 2925 Titan Lane. That meeting is for all students proposed to be rezoned to Golden Gate High School.
Gulf Coast High School freshman Josh Raimer, 14, said he plans to be at those meetings. Josh lives on First Avenue Southwest in Golden Gate Estates, one street outside the proposed new zone for Gulf Coast High School. The district released maps of the proposed rezoned areas on Monday on its Web site, www.collierschools.com.
“I don’t really want to go (to Golden Gate High School). All of my friends are not getting rezoned and my classes — I have honors AP classes and Golden Gate can’t really offer me those,” he said.
Collier County administrators have said that the district will do everything it can to make sure that all of the classes students could take at one school will be offered at another, with the exception of academies, which are assigned to specific schools.
But Josh said Gulf Coast students, who attend an A school, should not be forced to attend Golden Gate High School, which is a C school.
“Gulf Coast is just farther along than Golden Gate,” he said.
Superintendent Dennis Thompson, who has visited every school in the district, said every school in Collier provides students with a quality education. He said the grade of a school does not reflect how a student will do at the school.
“The grade is the cumulative effect of everyone that goes here,” he said. “You have more students at Golden Gate who have been impeded by language, who come from war torn, desperate poverty where they might not have been to school. Get past the grade. It is not about the grade. It is about the quality of teaching. And Golden Gate has very fine teachers.”
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, with some board members arguing that it was cheaper than bringing in an additional $3 million in portables.
Josh said he would like to see the current Gulf Coast High School students stay at their school.
“All of my friends are freaking out because they don’t want to go. They just don’t want to go to Golden Gate. I just got adjusted and everything. I am comfortable with this school. If I have to go to a new one, it wouldn’t be good.”