Chatham school board plan re-zones 750 students - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Chatham school board plan re-zones 750 students

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POOLER, GA (WTOC) -

One of the biggest factors in where a parent chooses to live is the school a child is zoned to attend, but sometimes that changes.

The Savannah-Chatham School System's nearly-new Godley station K-8 school is woefully overcrowded. But parents like the school and say they don't want their children to be forced to move.

The school board's current plan to combat overcrowding would slate 750 students to transfer schools next year. A portion of Port Wentworth Elementary, Godley Station, Mercer Middle School students would be moved to Port Wentworth Elementary in 2014.

For one year, Port Wentworth would be a K-8 school. Then it would close, and those students would move to a new North Port Wentworth K-8 elementary.

That wouldn't be the only change. Some students from Port Wentworth Elementary and Mercer Middle would move to Mercer next year, and Mercer would become a K-8.

"It's just that westside is booming," School Board President Dr. Joe Buck said. "And that is a good thing for Chatham County and the westside, but it is just stretching the school, is stretching all our schools, just to the limit."

Overcrowding at Godley Station has already forced Godley parent Tonya Booth's daughter to be transferred once, in pre-kindergarten. Now she's back at Godley, but the current plan calls for her to move again, to Port Wentworth K-8 and then to the new North Port Wentworth K-8.

"That will be a total of four times she's had to move, and we're not a military family," Booth said. "I was born and raised in Savannah. I shouldn't have to do this. I bought my house for this school."

Buck said the school board is asking parents to help them find alternatives.

"Most of the parents I talked with say they don't want a change," he said. "They're not giving a lot of solution."

School leaders say something has to give. Right now, Godley students are in portable classrooms.

Built for 1,200 students, Godley now has more than 1,600. If nothing changes, it's projected to have more than 1,900 next year.

Natasha Burton says overcrowding has led her children's grades to slip.

"They're just not getting that one-on-one facetime that they need," she said, "because the teacher's too busy trying to wrangle children because there's too many children."

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