Meeting planned to discuss rezoning

Published 10:55 pm Thursday, March 1, 2018

School Board members David Mitnick and Dr. Judith Brooks-Buck will hold a town hall meeting next week to get comments from their respective boroughs regarding school rezoning proposals and school schedule changes.

The town hall meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday at Creekside Elementary School, 1000 Bennetts Creek Park Road. The School Board plans to vote on both issues at its March 8 meeting in City Council Chambers.

Mitnick, from the Sleepy Hole Borough, and Brooks-Buck, from the Nansemond Borough, will show video from the February meeting that had both presentations for rezoning and schedule changes.

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“In everything that we’ve heard from the public hearings and survey, nothing was divided by address or by where people live,” Mitnick said. “Not many people from this side of Suffolk spoke. I really don’t know how my constituents feel. I encourage people that still need to be heard to come out.”

“We are listening to our constituents,” Brooks-Buck said. “That’s why we are having the meeting.”

Most of those that spoke against rezoning during public hearings were parents from Pioneer Elementary School.

The School Board was shown multiple rezoning options, and most parents who spoke oppose the city-wide plan. The rezoning is necessary to fill the new middle school being added in North Suffolk and to make schools more diverse.

The School Board was subject to a consent order from the Department of Justice in March 2017 to “resolve the Board’s remaining school desegregation obligations.” The order is the legacy of a lawsuit filed in 1970 against the school district’s segregation.

“If we went with the city-wide proposal it would make the schools more diverse. We have a plan that allows for more diversity,” Mitnick said. “It’s something that needs to be considered.”

Mitnick receives plenty of emails regarding rezoning, and he receives more than enough from those representing Pioneer Elementary School.

“They are pleading their hearts out, and it’s really tough,” Mitnick said. “Those people have paid good money to live in their homes to live in that area. I have a proposal that will disrupt their lives, and it’s hard knowing that.”

With the vote less than a week away, Mitnick is unsure how his vote will swing. He’s hoping the town hall meeting will give him an idea of what his constituents want.

“People elected me to be their voice on the School Board. This is how I can be their voice, to hear what they have to say,” Mitnick said. “I still need to hear from my constituents. I will vote based upon on the information that I have, and I will do what’s right for the city of Suffolk. That’s what we all have to do.”