MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - People lined the hallways at Martin Luther King Elementary School waiting for their chance to make their voice heard. It was one in and one out, in the room where board members gathered to listen to concerns about the MPS school consolidation plan.
"Let's stop looking at the children as numbers, because they have hearts, they have minds, they have souls," said Lillie Webster, a community member who spoke at the hearing.
The superintendent and board members also wanted to clear up misconceptions about the plan.
"I've heard that North Pass are going to be rezoned for Carver this year," one parent asked.
That's not true," board members told him. The high school rezoning has been delayed until a proposed east side high school is built, but students who are attending schools out of their zone could be moved. The elementary and middle school attendance zone changes will proceed this upcoming school year.
Despite the emotional feedback coming from parents, school leaders say they are listening.
"We made a minor attendance zone change to one school," said Barbara Thompson, Superintendent of the Montgomery Public Schools. "They went back and looked at it. That's why I was asking if there are any really good suggestions, we're going to go back and consider those."
"There's a common perception that the decision's already been made, that is not true," said School Board President Charlotte Meadows. "I'm here to listen, to see what the biggest problems lie and see if we can do something to change the biggest concerns."
But MPS leaders stress something has to be done to deal with an expected $ 11 million deficit next school year. They hope to work with lawmakers to find a way to get more revenue into the school system in the future.
The next chance for parents to make their voice heard is at Carr Middle School on February 1 at 5 P.M. The board is scheduled to vote on the plan on February 15.