Another round of discussions about overcrowding at Ocean Bay Middle School is coming, since parents in Carolina Forest spoke out about a proposed attendance line change and how the recommendation was handled.
Twenty-five parents showed up at Monday night’s Horry County school board meeting to protest the proposed change, which would send most students who attend Carolina Forest Elementary School to Black Water Middle School instead of Ocean Bay.
Parents have cited safety concerns about busing children to Black Water along an already congested U.S. 501, as well as lost personal time for homework, extracurricular activities and family time, said Colleen Sharp-Mills, founder of the Facebook group Parents Against the Realigning of Carolina Forest Elementary School, but they also are upset that the elementary school had no representation on the site committee and that no other options were discussed.
“We are far from done with Carolina Forest,” said board member Karen McIlrath, who represents part of the Carolina Forest area. “I’m very dissatisfied with the low attendance [at two site meetings], and the parents who were there made it clear that the way it was presented was that this was the only option.”
The Carolina Forest site committee met last week, and members voted to recommend the attendance line change to a district-wide panel. The panel will consider proposed changes from around the district and present a final recommendation to the school board, which is not obligated to approve any recommendation.
Board Chairman Joe DeFeo said the board will be calling a new committee meeting, and a new member will be appointed who represents those from Carolina Forest Elementary School. He and McIlrath said there are other options for easing Ocean Bay’s overcrowding, including adding space vertically to the building or adding another middle school around Carolina Forest Boulevard.
“We could also take more of the Carolina Forest population and keep them at Ocean Bay Middle or keep it the way it is for a few more years, but that may not be acceptable to other people,” DeFeo said.
The new site committee member may not be appointed until the board’s Sept. 30 meeting, which pushes back the next Carolina Forest meeting, DeFeo said, but even with a new discussion, Sharp-Mills is skeptical that it will change anything.
“I feel like the wait, [the decision is] just being prolonged,” she said, “but people are told you can’t beat the school board, and I think Carolina Forest parents don’t want to think that way.”
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.