Seminole County redistricting lines set as new school year set to begin



SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Students in Seminole County have one more week of summer vacation, but teachers headed back to school on Monday.

Next week, teacher Brittany Knipe will have a classroom full of first-graders, some of them reluctantly new to Crystal Lake Elementary School due to new, controversial redistricting lines.

"I'm new to the school. The kids are new, well, some of the kids are new, so I figure we'll navigate," said Knipe. "I'll show them the ropes that I'm learning, too."

In all, 3,000 elementary school students districtwide will go to new schools this year after a six-month redistricting process that wasn't short on controversy.

Channel 9 first reported about the heated rezoning committee meetings, neighborhood rallies and even music videos of parents fighting to keep their children in their old school.

But district officials told Channel 9 on Monday that they succeeded in balancing out the student population.

"In hindsight, I think it was the best we could do," said director of staffing Tim Harper.

In the end, the district wasn't able to spread out the number of "low-income" students across its schools and in some cases, families moved to keep their children at the same school as last year, Channel 9's Bianca Castro learned.

More students are expected to walk the halls of Seminole County schools compared to last year and enrollment numbers are higher, so the district hired 20 new teachers.

Jessica Bailey is one of them, and she said she's prepared for whatever the first day brings.

"It's going to be like my first day, so I kind of can be on the same page as them, nervous and excited," she said.

Right now, 62,000 students are enrolled to start class in Seminole County next week.