School board discusses ending spot-rezoning effort

School Board Member Kay Abbitt explains why she wants to “put a stop to the spot rezoning”


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – At tonight’s Alachua County School Board meeting, Member Kay Abbitt requested that the board “put a stop to the spot rezoning” during the Board Member Requests part of the meeting.

Abbitt said, “I want to request that we do not move forward with spot rezoning and wait and do a comprehensive rezoning next year.” Her first reason was that the vote to rezone elementary schools was for comprehensive rezoning: in fact, the motion at the February 7 meeting was to ask Superintendent Shane Andrew to “immediately address rezoning at the elementary schools for the ’23-’24 school year.” She added that spot rezoning would reduce the options for comprehensive rezoning the following year because those schools would be out of the mix; also, she thought the board should focus on bigger problems.

Andrew agreed, recommending that the board “revisit the motion… It is my recommendation, for the record, to not move forward with elementary rezoning by the start of the August 2023 school year” so families will have more than four or five months’ notice that they are being moved to a new school. He also said staff needs more time for community input and that Kindergarten Round-up is coming up quickly, on April 27.

Board Attorney David Delaney said it sounded like there was a request for more information, and he recommended getting that information from the superintendent, allowing the board members time to review it, and addressing the issue at a future meeting.

Member Diyonne McGraw asked whether they could take the vote tonight, but Delaney said again that it sounded like board members wanted more information and pointed out that the agenda did not include an item about rescinding the decision to do spot-rezoning. However, the February 7 vote to rezone before the 2023 school year was taken during the Board Member Requests part of that meeting and was not on that agenda. McGraw pointed out that there is a meeting scheduled for citizen input on March 23, and Certain said that meeting will occur as scheduled.

Member Leanetta McNealy said she understood pulling back but didn’t support it because she thought they had all been on the same page (the vote on February 7 was unanimous, with Sarah Rockwell absent). She said that, based on this evening’s discussion, she didn’t see why people “would take the time to show up at Terwillegar on Thursday evening if it’s pretty sure that we are not going to have the quorum of the vote to move forward… I’m really perplexed and confused… I want to be on record that I don’t agree, at this time, with one more time kicking the can down the road when you know what we need to do.”

Member Sarah Rockwell said she was disappointed because the board should have started talking about rezoning much earlier and also that no plans were presented at the March 8 workshop. She pointed out that moving students from “Old Terwillegar” to the new Terwillegar was presented as a one-year swing school, but if there is no rezoning before fall, they will be in that school for three years. She said many of the families zoned for that school cannot reach it by bus from their neighborhoods.

Abbitt said it’s “crazy” that the board and staff will have to continue to spend time on the spot re-zoning process when they have so many other things to work on: “It just doesn’t seem logical.”

McGraw said the board never received an explanation for why they were pursuing spot rezoning instead of comprehensive rezoning; she said that given the number of teachers leaving the district, the board should be prioritizing getting behavior and transportation under control. “I know one thing: you’re gonna lose everybody you have if you don’t get this behavior under control,” McGraw said.

Chair Tina Certain said staff had told her they didn’t have enough time to do comprehensive rezoning before the 2023 school year, and she shared Rockwell’s concerns about the families at Terwillegar. She said she didn’t think the board could do anything about behavior except what they had already done through budget and policies. She said, “Spot rezoning at this time kind of paves the way to help those students out that are there and helps the capacity issues at some schools, it helps with the finances.” She said they would hold Thursday’s workshop and see how it “shakes out.”

  • Fools. Just fools. Zero leadership. Zero accountability. Kudos to all those who elected these board members. I’m just glad we pulled our kids out of this tragic system.

  • America should just make home schooling the default requirement. And then parents must apply to enter their kids in schools, and qualify. Or face arrest if deemed too irresponsible to do either.

  • Tina Certain says “see how it shakes out.” Really? This is leadership? These folks are even dumber than the Gainesville fiasco commission.

  • Certain said, “she didn’t think the board could do anything about behavior except what they had already done through budget and policies.” And how well is that working?

    She basically said what some have been saying, we can’t fix who doesn’t want to be.

    No further explanation, excuse or reason is needed for Ms. Certain & Ms. McNealy’s agenda. It’s clear, crystal – they intend to bring down or limit the resources of students who wish to excel to “even” the playing field.

  • Bad parents don’t care about what problems their children cause until it affects the parents personally. Problem children need to be transferred to a dedicated disciplinary school that the parents must provide transportation to and that charges $1,000/month as a tuition/fine, minimum 3 months or half school year. Strict discipline, physical exercise, intensive remedial academics geared towards vocational skills.

    At the end of the mandatory minimum period, parents and child have a probation hearing with admins and old teacher to assess whether child is ready to re-enter normal child schooling.

  • “Spot” rezoning, without addressing the most overpopulated schools, is still… “just kicking the can down the road.” If this incomplete process proceeds it will cause more issues for the next school year and during a proper comprehensive rezoning. All this is doing is adding to the horrible decision to close the old Terwilliger without zoning being addressed then. Let’s just do it correctly and put the Band-Aids away.

  • What is the school board the right to do anything these school boards are getting out of control they are little tyrants they do not believe in educating our children they believe in brainwashing them into hating America and to hating other races not looking in a person’s character these school boards need to be abolished and taken over by parents who believe in their students where do they get off having any kind of authority anymore anywhere they don’t even make their teachers teach subjects like science mathematics social studies and history they’re letting their teachers come in with their own damagendas and brainwashing our children who the hell did they think they are they are not educating our children there should be no sex talk whatsoever inside of a school that is done at home if they’re having a problem they talk to their parents not to a teacher The only words coming out of a teacher’s mouth should be the subject that they are teaching which is science social studies history mathematics anything else is their own opinion anytime a child asks for their opinion they say no I don’t have an opinion I’m here to teach you what is going on You want an opinion talk to your parents get the parents involved in the child’s life get the teacher out of the children’s life except for teaching them history science mathematics social studies these are the only things that need to be coming out of a teacher’s mouth a teacher doesn’t belong going to school with their own damn agenda and I don’t care about these teachers in California and none of them deserve a raise All these teachers now are brainwashing our children to be against their parents and be against America screw you all

  • Neighborhood schools where kids are close by and know others are best. Splitting neighborhoods and neighbors are an artificial fix for other problems.

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