Parents go head to head with Merced school leaders

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Parents came head to head with Merced school leaders to voice their concerns about new school boundary lines which go into effect this fall.

Starting this fall some families who live in Merced and currently send their children to Peterson or Chenoweth elementary will have to bus their children farther away from home.

"I don't want my kids bussed," said Michelle Taylor.

Parents armed with signs told school leaders at the latest board meeting the district should have done a better job at information the public about the upcoming changes. Michelle Taylor said she bought her home so her kids could attend the best school but after the board voted to redraw school boundaries, her kids will have to go elsewhere.

"The amount of money I can sell my house from now just dropped. Nobody is going to want to buy my home and ship their kids to Ada Givens," said Taylor.

10-year-old Lillian Bernal says the changing boundaries forced her and her little brother to also study at different locations.

"It's not good we have to get split up and go separate schools. If I get to stay at Peterson why can't my brother stay at Peterson with me," said Bernal.

The board voted to redraw school lines on January 27th after several public hearings. School leaders say a fast growing population in the Northeastern part of the city was causing overcrowding. Starting this fall the district has plans to house 6th graders on the same campus and kindergarten to fifth graders.

"When the board decided to have the 6th graders go to the elementary and have them K6s rather than K5 it gave them an opportunity to balance things out. We were way out of balance and we had schools that were very very high," said facilities director, Ken Testa.

Testa says the changes will not affect the majority of students district wide. In a presentation he also explained how the building of Rivera elementary this fall will help reduce the number of students who are currently being bussed in the Northwestern part of the city.

Families being impacted by the new boundaries have until February 17th to make their case to school leaders about why their child should remain at their current school.

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