There's nothing like a good school rezoning to bring out the cattiness in us.
Seminole County is trying to even out the disparity between schools with empty classrooms and those with space shortages so severe that students meet in former storage rooms and portables.
Cue the snobbery and condescension.
From the western edge of Seminole County to east of the Little Econ River, parents in affluent neighborhoods are turning up their noses at the prospect of their child switching to a school they perceive to be inferior or attending class with more kids who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.
You would think someone had asked Lord and Lady Grantham to sleep in the servants' quarters.
But far from the classist confines of the fictional Downton Abbey, this is Seminole County, where every child has the right to a free quality education.
Rezoning is a fact of life — a sometimes-painful but necessary step to make sure public schools are running efficiently and fairly.
And isn't efficient government what we want, what we demand?
And so redrawing the boundaries of school-attendance zones becomes an emotionally overwrought process with fights over how one A-rated school is better or worse than another A-rated school. Or how losing the cachet of certain school names will hurt property values.
I get it. I really do. When I bought a house, I focused on neighborhoods with high-performing schools. But I also understood that zones can and will change.
It was just eight years ago that Seminole County convulsed over a shift in high-school zones.
Parents of students rezoned from Lake Brantley to Lyman were irate. They filed a lawsuit (and lost) claiming Lyman was inferior.
Among their chief complaints: Only 42 percent of students at Lyman passed AP courses to earn college credit, compared with a 45 percent passing rate at Lake Brantley. And the average SAT score at Brantley was 1,081 out of a then-maximum of 1,600, compared with 1,018 at Lyman.
And at the time, both Lake Brantley and Lyman were rated "C" schools — hardly the disparity you would expect for such outrage.
Now as committees tapped to come up with potential new elementary zones meet again this week, parents are arguing the merits of one A-rated school versus another.
Some parents in Oviedo's Live Oak subdivision, for example, just can't fathom their child moving from Partin Elementary to Carillon Elementary. Both schools have earned A's for the past five years.
But Carillon is at just 47 percent capacity, and Partin is 86 percent full.
At a committee meeting, there were accusations that Carillon is a lesser school than Partin.
That was perception talking, not reality. There is no more to substantiate Carillon's inferiority than there is to prove that Tory Burch handbags are superior to those of Michael Kors.
But that is the nature of school-zone fights in a nutshell. People don't like change. We view our school as a brand, and we become very loyal. Even convince ourselves that nothing else will do.
"They feel that when they purchased their home that they're entitled to that school," said School Board member Tina Calderone. "They don't see that they're entitled to a free public education."
And that's why my advice to parents is to relax. Attend the rezoning meetings. Have a say in the process. And remember that, in many cases, your school is what your neighborhood makes it through parent involvement, volunteering and watchdogging local officials.
If you helped make your current school great and you get switched in the rezoning, you can make your new school just as great.
And maybe we catty adults will even make some new friends.
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