Dozens of Polk County parents continue to miss work because their kids have not been assigned a teacher.
At least 50 families have been turned away from Citrus Ridge: A Civics Academy and told to send their children to an overflow school nearby.
Still, after four days many of them do not have a classroom and haven’t been able to start their school year.
Only after contacting the media has one family had success in getting their three children enrolled.
Kelly Carrano says the fourth day must be a charm. “My kids just want to go to school they want to meet new friends and their new area,” Carrano said. The mother of three says she’s missed three days of work now, trying to get her children assigned a teacher. The first day of school Carrano says she waited most of the day to find out what the issue was, only to be told she and her children needed to be sent to an overflow school.
Loughman Oaks, the designated overflow school, also said there wasn’t room for the extra students. Carrano and her children were sent home and told to try again, and wait to be registered. What was supposed to be an exciting time for her kindergartener, turned into a big disappointment.
“They didn't want to go because they kept telling me that we are going to go there and they are going to send us home, we don't want to keep getting up and putting on our uniforms and sitting in office for three hours,” Carrano says she doesn’t want to keep getting her children’s hopes up.
Polk County Schools offered ABC Action News this comment:
“Citrus Ridge is located in a booming section of Polk County. New families are moving in constantly, which makes determining the school’s enrollment extremely difficult. At the start of this school year, approximately 50 children were sent to Loughman Oaks, the nearest “overflow school,” even though they are zoned for Citrus Ridge. Some of these children had only just moved to the area within the last couple of weeks.
The district will ensure that we accommodate every child zoned for Citrus Ridge. We are in the process of contacting the affected families to let them know they may bring their children back to Citrus Ridge. All families will be contacted with a personal phone call within the first week of school (school began Thursday, Aug. 10).”
Another mother, Melissa McMenaman says her Pre-K student was registered last April, many months before the school year began. However, when she came to Citrus Ridge the first day, McMenaman was told the school was overcapacity and her 4 year-old may have to be moved. “It's very upsetting to find out that there is 3,000 students in the small community going to this school,” McMenaman said.
That’s not the only issue parents are complaining about.
The first day of school traffic was backed up into the busy highway intersection of Highway 27 and Sand Mine Road. Parents tell ABC Action News the organization of the drop-off and pickup lines is taking hours. And although it has improved since last Thursday, McMenanman says the line to pick up her daughter still takes at least a half hour, she believes due to overcrowding and disorganization.
“I don't really know what they can do to fix the issue because they've already registered all of these kids to the school,” McMenaman said.
According to the Citrus Ridge: A Civics Academy Website, the two-year-old elementary school tried something new to attempt to streamline the drop-off and pick-up lines but it’ didn’t work well.
“We realize traffic was a mess today. In our attempt to streamline things, we tried something new and it didn’t work very well. So, we will be going back to our old traffic pattern tomorrow (Friday) morning. Buses will drop off by the gym, car riders in front of the cafeteria.”
Parents say if the problems aren’t resolved this year, they’re likely only to get worse.