DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- Parents in DeKalb County are putting their anger and resolve to work.
They're angry that their children may be forced to attend schools outside their neighborhoods because of proposed re-zoning.
Their resolve is to come up with their own plan, for the DeKalb County School Board to consider, that is less disruptive.
"They want to hear what we think," said one parent, Katie Kelly Bell, of the board members. Bell said Thursday night that parents need to "be constructive about what we think and to present a united front, and to give them useful material. It's not a pitch-fork and torch kind of experience, we're not about that."
Bell spoke with 11Alive News at a meeting she helped organize of parents from across DeKalb County -- and dozens of them packed the Leafmore Creek Park Clubhouse in the LaVista corridor -- determined to prove that the DeKalb County School Board does not have to split their neighborhoods and close their children's schools and force their children to attend other schools farther away.
The School Board will soon vote on a proposal submitted by a consultant to redraw the school districts and consolidate schools because of population shifts. The proposal is to close at least a dozen low-population elementary schools, because, according to a schools spokesman, there are 11,000 empty seats in the schools that are costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year. Other schools are crowded. So the board believes system-wide reorganization is unavoidable.
But last year parents objected so intensely to the plan that was presented then, the board put off a decision.
"I know they need to close schools," Bell said, "but we're trying to come up with a way to do that that doesn't fracture communities like this plan does."
"Table this, toss it out the window, stop this nonsense," said a parent about the board's proposed plan, and the crowd applauded. "Bombard the DeKalb County School System with phone calls."
The school board will hold public hearings over the next several weeks. The first one will be at 6:30 pm Tuesday, January 11, at Miller Grove High School. The board will make a final decision possibly on February 28th.
The parents who met Thursday night will continue to work against the clock on coming up with an alternative plan.
Link: DeKalb County Schools "2020 Vision" Plan