HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — After a ten-hour workshop, the Howard County School Board voted 5-2 Monday night to move forward with a controversial redistricting plan that would change where thousands of students attend classes.

Board members voted in favor of moving forward with the plan in a straw poll ahead of a final vote scheduled for Thursday.

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The plan to address school overcrowding has drawn significant opposition from some students and parents.

“It’s basically dividing our community in half,” said parent Tom Sacconee.

Inside Monday’s workshop, the school board discussed the proposed plan that, if approved, would reassign nearly 7,400 students to new schools for the 2020 school year.

The superintendent said the plan would reduce overcrowding and address inequalities in the distribution of students affected by poverty.

But some parents said it will tear apart their community.

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“If they had a shot at making it work they had to start when kids were in elementary school making their friend group,” said parent Tim Dull.

“The kids have already grown with their neighbors and friends and to divide them out…they’re going to be outsiders in their own school,” Sacconee said.

For the past 10 months, the board has held multiple work sessions, voting on motions that create guidelines for the redistricting plan.

Some members argued over the idea of needing more time.

“I just don’t think we are giving them the time they deserve, I feel like we are being rushed at this point,” said Vicky Cutroneo.

It’s a hot button issue that’s gained traction from parents and teachers who packed inside Monday’s workshop wearing t-shirts and holding signs demanding the board find a better solution.

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“The real solution, the way to alleviate the problem is to expand the school, build another wing on the school rather than play a shell game and move kids around,” Sacconee said.

Kelsey Kushner