Robin Lopatin, a mother of two elementary school students, chose to upgrade to a new home in a new development within the same city because of “its reputation” for high-rated schools.
She appreciates that she lives close enough that her children could walk or bicycle to class. And like many of her neighbors, the 37-year-old parent is convinced that busing Parkland children to schools miles away in east Broward, in Pompano Beach or Deerfield Beach, is not what she signed up for.
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“What bothers me is she’s trying to kick kids out of neighborhood schools,” she said. “And there’s no reason for a child to be put on a bus and driven across county.”
Broward School Board member Abby Freedman has proposed changes that could affect Parkland children who will live in developments known as the “Wedge,” a formerly unincorporated area now part of the city.
Upset residents have rallied against the proposal. Reacting to the plan, parents have reconsidered living in the new homes. And city officials have emailed school officials, claiming that the boundary proposals have halted home sales.
Freedman — who lives in Parkland, and whose voting district also includes Coral Springs, North Lauderdale, Tamarac and Margate — said she wants the community to attend a 6:30 p.m. Monday meeting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at 5901 Pine Island Road in Parkland so she can “respond to my maps accordingly.”
“I am extremely concerned with the overcrowding that results from new development,” she said. “People would like their children near their home, I can understand and appreciate that. But if the only way to get you a seat near your home is for another child to get up and give you their seat, I don’t think the child currently in the seat would want to give it up.”
In her proposal, Freedman suggests reassigning children now assigned to Parkland’s Westglades Middle to go to Forest Glen Middle in Coral Springs and another portion to Deerfield Beach Middle. Other proposals include sending “Wedge” children to the under-enrolled Deerfield Park Elementary and to Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach.
The homes under construction include Watercrest at Parkland, a 458-home lakefront development being constructed by Standard Pacific Homes, and MiraLago, 526 single-family homes and Town Parc, 230 townhomes, both being built by Miami-based Lennar.
“There just aren’t enough seats. Where are all these children going?” Freedman said.
Parkland resident Lopatin, who now lives in Heron Bay, purchased a six-bedroom house in Watercrest in March and said she had initially considered walking away from her $150,000 deposit.
The frenzy is “taking away some of the excitement [of the new house] because the uncertainty,” she said. The proposals are “causing people to panic and question their decisions for moving in to the new communities,” she said.
City Hall said it has received reports from two developers that home sales have halted. On Tuesday, Parkland City Manager Caryn Gardner-Young sent commissioners an email: “I was just told that Lennar sold NO homes this weekend,” she wrote. Lennar officials, however, said Friday that sales “remain strong.”
Meanwhile, Parkland Mayor Michael Udine is trying to offer the School Board millions of dollars that the city has on reserve from developer contributions to build additional classrooms on existing Parkland schools. He said Friday that School Board staff members “advised that they would be agreeable,” but said Freedman has not responded to his email.
“The proposal by Abby Freedman is outrageous and completely divisive,” Udine said.