Parents protest over school zone changes

HOUSTON Both parents and students are livid because one rezoning plan takes them out of a school in their neighborhood to another much farther away. Now, they say they won't go without a fight.

Boycotting buses and taking to the trail, hundreds of teens and their parents made their way to Sartartia Middle School on Friday morning.

"We don't want to leave," student Trudy Rogers said.

Some wore signs showing just how close they live to the campus.

"These are our schools," parent Lisa Young said. "We bought our homes here for these schools. These are our schools, and we're gonna fight for our schools."

One proposal currently being considered by Fort Bend ISD would move between 400 and 500 students who live west of Highway 99 and move them from Sartartia Middle School, which is right inside New Territory, to the as-yet-unnamed middle school #14 that's still under construction. It is being built near Pecan Grove, beginning with the 2011-2012 school year.

It's about a five-mile trip from one school to the other. Parents say the difference is you can't safely walk there.

"Highway 90 is a major highway," parent Jim Willis said. "There's absolutely no provisions for a crossing there whatsoever, so that would be a very much a safety concern for anybody that's wanted to walk or ride their bike to school."

Fort Bend ISD says it's necessary to realign attendance boundaries in order to plan for future growth and to address existing overcrowding.

Three west-side schools are already above planned capacity. Crockett, Garcia and Sugar Land middle schools all have 115 percent or greater enrollment. Sartartia is at 100 percent.

"It's inevitable; when we're building a new school, we have to zone," said Lance Hindt with Fort Bend ISD.

The district says under the proposal it would bus all students affected to the new campus. Officials say they understand parental concerns and they want parents to know that nothing has yet been decided.

"We're still in the process; it's a process that we're working through," Hindt said.

The district won't make a decision on rezoning until later this year. There are other options for the district too.

However, some say the motivator for this change could be money and they're worried about their pocket books being affected should their kids not be allowed to attend school right in their neighborhood.

To read more on the zoning proposals you can log onto Fort Bend ISD's website.

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