CHESAPEAKE, Va. - In a packed school board meeting Monday night, the Chesapeake School Board voted 9-0 Monday to approve attendance zones 1 and 4, which would affect students attending six schools. Changes will start September 2018.
50 people signed up to speak in front of the school board about the proposed attendance zones for students. This is an issue News 3 has been following since March. After two and a half hours of emotional testimony from parents and students the board voted to approve two out of the four attendance zone options.
"We had no rights tonight," said Kate Neuman, a Mom of five.
Neuman's son Hayden is currently attending Deep Creek Central Elementary. He is part of the Robotics club and was very much looking forward to attending Hugo Owens Middle School, which has a well-funded, well-coached team that competes on the state level. But with the board's vote, he won't get to join that team anymore. Through tears, Hayden explained he'll most likely lose friends because of the change and may not get to be part of a robotics team any longer.
Parents told News 3 they felt the board had already made up their mind before the meeting due to the lack of deliberation and how quickly the vote took place.
"They knew exactly what they were going to vote for when they walked in there and that was our biggest fear," said Kim Lee, who spoke at the meeting. "I think we're all a little offended how quickly they came to that decision without any discussion and then they're out."
The schools affected include Deep Creek, Great Bridge, Hickory and Hugo Owens Middle Schools along with Great Bridge and Hickory High Schools. Bus routes will also be changed. To see details of the attendance zones on the school board's website click here.
As a result of the vote, rising sophomores, juniors and seniors will get the choice to keep attending the school in which they are currently enrolled. However, they cannot take the school bus and parents will be responsible for transportation.
Ahead of the meeting, concerned citizens talked to News 3 about big issues they'd like to see fixed. One of those is the safety of schools.
David Schleeper said the orchestra pit at Hickory High School has been flooded since the last school year and is affecting students' safety. He also added the football stadium at Great Bridge High School is condemned, with black mold in the students' lockers. Schleeper said both of these are issues that should have been fixed by now. He's proposing term limits for elected officials and started a petition to get it on the ballot.