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East County Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 2 weeks ago

School District of Manatee County rezoning approval appeases GreyHawk parents

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However, GreyHawk residents worry their children will be bounced around East County schools in the future.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

When Desiree Mahiquez found out her neighborhood, GreyHawk Landing, could be rezoned from B.D. Gullett Elementary School to Freedom Elementary School, she was concerned about her three children being able to stay in the same school.

After the School Board of Manatee County voted Nov. 12 to approve several redistricting options, including the rezoning of GreyHawk Landing to Freedom, the Mahiquez family is resting easy after the board also voted to grandfather in children entering kindergarten in the 2020-21 school year to be able to attend the same school as their older siblings (if the older siblings)  choose to stay at the school they currently attend).

Now, Mahiquez’s child who will be in kindergarten next year will be able to go to the same school as Mahiquez’s two other children.

The board also chose to provide choice preference in the future for children to go to the same school, if the school is under capacity.

“To me as a parent, I would’ve imagined my children all going to the same school,” said Gina Messenger, a board member. “To me, I think it’s the right thing to do to grandfather in siblings for the first year.”

During the Nov. 12 school board public hearing, several GreyHawk Landing parents said they were more accepting of the decision to rezone their neighborhood after Don Sauer, the director of student demographics, projects and assignment for the School District of Manatee County, answered questions and addressed concerns.

“In looking at maps, given numbers and knowing what the school committees were allowed to consider, I can see why those on the committees selected our neighborhood [to be zoned to Freedom],” Mahiquez said.

Many parents still demanded stability for their children.

“Please leave GreyHawk Landing alone going forward,” resident Brady Chapman said. “Leave us at Freedom, Mona Jain [Middle School] and Lakewood Ranch [High School].”

Parents from all over the district were worried about where their children would be assigned to middle school as East County grows.

“What happens when Sugg [Middle School] gets 200 seats, Haile [Middle School] gets an addition and Mona Jain fills up?” Mahiquez said. “When does this end? When does GreyHawk Landing get consistent community schools?”

Golden said the board needs to provide rezoning solutions that will address the continual growth in East County.

“We have not seriously considered how to manage that growth in such a way that it does not leave many of our schools in the western part [of the county] half vacant and most of our schools in the eastern part overcrowded,” he said. 

Golden said it is up to the Manatee County Commission to consider the impact of education in Manatee County when considering approval of development.

The school board also unanimously approved redistricting for Braden River Middle School and William H. Bashaw, Braden River, Tara and Gilbert W. McNeal elementary schools.

To see how redistricting impacted these schools, visit ManateeSchools.net.

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