Thursday, September 18, 2014 · 1:39 a.m.

School rezoning proposal inspected at Ooltewah meeting

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The map for the proposed Ooltewah High and East Hamilton Middle-High. (Graphic: Contributed)

Parents and students swarmed Ooltewah High School tonight at the second public meeting, explaining plans for rezoning.

East Hamilton Middle-High School is overcrowded, and Ooltewah High School is under capacity.

The school district held a meeting at East Hamilton earlier in the week where parents expressed anger about their children moving to a different school.

Debra Fisher took a close look at the rezoning map, thankful her Ooltewah High School son won't have to change schools.

"My 10th grader is currently taking a modern English and grammar class, and his class has 32 students already, and they're already having to borrow desks from other classrooms," Fisher said.

Although Ooltewah High School as a whole is undercrowded, Fisher said some classes have too many kids already.

Superintendent Rick Smith took questions and concerns from parents at Ooltewah High about the proposed rezoning of several schools. 

Right now, East Hamilton Middle-High School is over capacity by about 500 students, and Ooltewah is about 500 students under capacity. 

"It needs to happen. We can't continue to have this kind of situation we have at East Hamilton where we're floating 10 teachers every period, every day in that building ... In other words, teachers don't have classrooms," Smith said.

If the rezoning process is approved, it'll also force some elementary school students to rezone. The middle and high school rezone would take effect next year, but the elementary rezoning wouldn't go into effect until two years from now. 

"The children being moved from a school that's getting all A's in reading, math and basic skills going to a school making C's ... and sometimes below, that's a crime," Karma Morgan, a parent, said.

One man handed the superintendent a written proposal requesting a strategic plan explaining the rezoning strategies.

"This is a proposal. We are the citizens of this county, and we have the right to look at the strategic plan you're executing," he said.

Most parents at the meeting simply want the best for their children.

"Ooltewah parents don't want to see the problem here again," Fisher said.

School board officials will vote on this proposal in two weeks. If passed, the middle and high school rezoning changes will go into effect in August.

This article is published with permission of NewsChannel 9.

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