MILTON — Following discussion of the Santa Rosa School District school board almost 200 students will be entering the halls of completely new schools in 2019-2020 school year. This decision follows the board's unanimous vote to rezone five schools in the district, Oriole Beach Elementary, Gulf Breeze Elementary, Dixon Elementary, Dixon Intermediate, and Pea Ridge Elementary.
Currently SRSD has 31 schools with over 28,000 students currently enrolled. According to the district, 10 schools, including both Dixon schools and Oriole Beach, are currently at 100 percent capacity.
Wei Ueberschaer, school board representative for Gulf Breeze, said rezoning was not an easy issue for her.
"We don’t take this lightly,” Ueberschaer said. “I’ve gone through every scenario I can think of for what’s best overall for the children. For me, it’s not just the overcrowded classrooms and the non-ideal situations, but it is a safety issue in the hallways, and being able to cycle kids through the cafeteria. That worries me when we’re talking about children’s safety as well as their learning.”
Parents, however, said they felt the rezoning would not permanently fix the issue.
Richard Dell, whose grandchild goes to OBE, said he wishes the board would give a little more consideration before rezoning the district and moving a bunch of students who have become comfortable in their schools.
“The inconvenience to the parents, and the children for that matter, moving them to a new school at this point in time, it’s not the best option that I think you have,” Dell said.
David Murrell, a father of a GBE student, said he felt the board's decision would negatively impact the children and asked the board to come up with a better solution.
"Growth in the south end of the county didn’t surprise anyone," Murrell said. "It happened due to county approval of future developments. I feel like the burden should be on the county and the school district to allocate proper resources to the necessary infrastructure to allow for this growth, and not just allow the growth to happen and sort out the details later."
Murrell said he felt like the burden was being transferred onto his family, specifically his children.
"That shouldn’t be done to them,” he said.
Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick said the issue was not something they could just "kick down the road."
"We are engaged in how we can expand capacity at Gulf Breeze Elementary, and all across our schools," he said.