Residents speak out against proposed school zoning changes

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -- Monday, hundreds of parents in East Montgomery had one burning question: Where will

my child

go to school?

Many of them came to Blount elementary, upset over the proposed re-zoning of parts of the city, introduced by the Montgomery Public School System.

One example illustrates a line drawn down the middle of Ray Thorington Road, sending one side to Blount and the other to the new Wilson Elementary School.

"Starting all over again is going to be difficult, especially when we live right across the street from our friends who will be going to Blount," said Chaleis Marcelino of Montgomery.

Parents also criticized zoning for the new Johnnie Carr Middle School.

Administrators say the plan is all about making sure schools aren't overcrowded--and that there's room to grow.

"We want to open these schools at about 65% capacity and allow for new growth to happen without having to rezone children next year," explained superintendent John Dilworth

The changes, however, extend outside the neighborhood.

The new lines would move places like Evergreen Estates mobile home park--about a mile from Brewbaker schools--into the zones for Carr and Wilson.

"It's a new school, new teachers, and a new environment, so I think it will be a good school for [my daughter]," said LaToya Calhoun of Montgomery.

With the negative reaction to the proposed plan back east, some residents claimed discrimination.

"What I am hearing is we don't want those Mexican and black kids out at Brewbaker over in our neighborhood," said one man.

Parents say that's not the case.

"They're wanting to bus in people from other places, and it seems like all the growth around the new school is right here," said Dave Stewart of Montgomery.

It's leaving Blount still overcrowded.  If you had seen our parking lot, there are like 30 portables. It's like a trailer park," Marcelino said.

It's a problem the school board says it's working on.

"The purpose of what we're doing here is to right-size all our schools," Dilworth explained.

Rezoning plans will be introduced to the school board on Tuesday.  A vote could come as soon as early April.