BRADENTON -- Although Manatee County School District staff has already created new preliminary attendance zones to move children out of Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary School and into the surrounding schools, committees began meeting Wednesday to pore over the plans and possibly suggest their own ideas.
The committee meeting, with administrators, teachers and parents from all affected schools, was the first in a series of meetings to formally redraw the zones. The committee meetings are required by Manatee County School Board policy whenever the district wants to redistrict, and hasn't been used in the last 10 years or so.
Under the current proposal, Rogers Garden Elementary School is slated to pick up most of the Orange Ridge students, but Ballard, Daughtrey, Oneco and Samoset elementary schools will also be affected.
On Tuesday, the school board approved a public hearing date and board vote in April to approve the redrawn attendance zones.
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With the preliminary map, the district has already done
a lot of the legwork, but needs community help to make sure the zones don't break up neighborhoods in strange ways.
"That's where you come in," Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Cynthia Saunders said. "We don't know the communities you live in. You can help us with really making the best recommendation to the board."
A group of about 40 people split into three smaller committees, which will meet over the next week to pore over the district proposal and suggest changes. The smaller committees will come back together to agree on a plan, which will be presented to the board for approval in April.
Earlier Wednesday, teachers and staff at Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary School peppered Manatee County Superintendent Diana Greene with questions about what will happen to their campus next year, after the Manatee County School Board took the first steps toward closing the school.
"My goal is to help the families and you -- if this goes through on April 12," Greene said to the crowd in the cafeteria.
Jobs will be available for teachers and staff within the district, Greene and Saunders said, but they may not be at the Rogers Garden site. Some students from Orange Ridge will move to Oneco, Samoset and Daughtrey elementary schools, which may mean positions open up at those schools. There will also be openings across the district.
Greene added it was premature to have those discussions. If it goes through, Saunders said, the process would start based on seniority and voluntary movements.
"It really could sort itself out," Saunders said. "I know that's what most of you are worried about."
Greene was also unable to tell the teachers and staff about what the new administration at the school would look like, whether the Orange Ridge administration would move into Rogers Garden or whether the Rogers Garden administration would stay in place.
"To talk more about that is really putting the cart before the horse," Greene said.
A meeting for Orange Ridge parents to hear more about the plans is slated for 6 p.m. Monday at the school.
A meeting for Rogers Garden staff is planned for 3:15 p.m. March 18 and a meeting for Rogers Garden parents will take place at 4:30 p.m. March 31.
Closing Orange Ridge is one in a series of proposals to help the district balance enrollment. Orange Ridge is in poor physical condition, and Rogers Garden is underused.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.