HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Parents in Howard County waited for hours to voice their opposition to a plan that would reassign more than 7,000 students to new schools.

Protests started outside of the Howard County school board offices Monday night before a public hearing to discuss the proposed plan.

“I want to stay with my friends, people I know, teachers I’m comfortable with,” said fourth-grader Rigel Wachter.

Some parents say the proposals will tear communities apart.

“Our neighborhood has been a continuous neighborhood for over 50 years. To divide us now is really sad,” said mother Bettina Wachter.

Inside the hearing, the criticism continued.

“I urge you to not drop the ball, but to listen to all of their voices you are elected to represent,” a commentator said.

School board members now have to consider the superintendent’s plan that calls for reassigning nearly 7,400 students to new schools.

3,194 in elementary schools, 1,300 middle schoolers, and another 2,800 in high school.

The superintendent who sat and listened to searing criticism said the changes are necessary to fix overcrowding in some schools, while also addressing inequities poorer children face.

In a statement on the district’s website he wrote, “Equity has been the basis for all of our decisions throughout our boundary review process, as we strive to ensure that all students may have full access and opportunity to receive the best educational services and supports,”

“Taking children out of their community simply for the purpose of trying to adjust rates of poverty by a few percentage points, it won’t do anything substantive to help the children who need it,” said Dr. Hemant Sharma, a parent.

Of the more than 80 people who spoke out at the hearing, no one agreed with the plan to send students to new schools.

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