School rezoning plan unveiled

Published 8:48 pm Thursday, December 26, 2013

School district officials propose relocating some Kilby Shores Elementary students when the city’s new elementary school opens off Holland Road next fall.

They would expand the current attendance zone for Southwestern Elementary School, whose 490 students will attend the new Pioneer Elementary School when it opens and Southwestern closes, to take in a small chunk of what’s now Kilby Shores’ territory.

Streets affected would be Beechwood, Raleigh, Forest Glen and Tracy drives; Fairfield and Gene avenues; Kilby and Robin lanes; Smalleys Dam Circuit; Hamer Road, and the residential section of Kenyon Road. About 85 students there would attend Pioneer instead of Kilby Shores, officials say.

Email newsletter signup

The proposed slice of new territory, either side of Holland Road, adjoins the current Southwestern Elementary zone in the northeast, with Lakeland High and Forest Glen Middle schools inside its boundary.

Suffolk Public Schools posted the plan on its website late last week, but parents in affected streets were unaware about it Thursday.

When delivered the news, Marlon Glass, who lives on Smalleys Dam Circuit, was concerned his two children could be pushed from a school he says serves them well, to one with untested educational standards.

“At Kilby Shores, from what I gather, the children are well-educated,” Glass said. “I don’t want to take my children out of that school.”

But if it does happen, he’s hoping Pioneer will at least be on equal footing with Kilby Shores.

“Hopefully the curriculum is the same, because the one at Kilby Shores I’m totally in agreeance with,” he said.

Jeffrey Brown on Beechwood Drive said: “It wouldn’t affect us too much because the school’s on the way to my wife’s work.”

He expressed some trepidation over the unknown quality of the new school, saying he was happy with Kilby Shores. But he added, “I’m sure they will hire good teachers” at Pioneer.

“It’s not that big a deal, as long as the (new) school keeps up with what Kilby Shores is doing,” Brown said. “It might even be a bit more challenging for her (and) make her do a little better and go out there and meet new people. It’s part of living.”

Suffolk Public School is accepting comments on the proposal, scheduled to be formally presented at the Jan. 9 School Board meeting, at Ahead of the meeting presentation, board members and district officials will hear public speakers on the proposal beginning at 6:30 p.m.

District spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw also says the board will discuss refining the schedule for approving the rezoning proposal.

A previous public input session, on Nov. 14 — before a committee had drafted the proposal — drew only one speaker. Prior School Board member Thelma Hinton said the rezoning was an opportunity to send children from poorer neighborhoods to schools were they can learn alongside students from more privileged parts of the city.