VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- The Virginia Beach School Board has directed staff to look at potential alternatives to the current plan to re-house Thoroughgood Elementary students while a new school is being built.
The board has asked facility staff to identify a timeline when to present those to the board, but parents put a halt to the unpopular plan after hours of heated public comment at Tuesday's school board meeting.
Concerned parents spoke out in strong opposition to the plan to put about 700 students in dozens of portable classrooms down the street at Hermitage Elementary.
More than 20 parents spoke to the council, angry because they felt they were never a part of the discussion until it was too late.
"Not a single parent in Thoroughgood was ever informed about any alternative plans, or any plans until the word got out that they were going to use the portables," said one father who signed up to speak.
Their concerns ranged from safety from being so close to Northampton Boulevard, to severe weather, to a "buddy system" for when students need to use the bathroom, which will be located outside.
"Sending two 6-year-olds alone outside in the freezing cold rain to go to the restroom is absurd. Not to mention the poor older students who are hundreds of feet away from the only restroom they have available," said one mother, who cried while speaking to the board.
In a workshop, the board looked at an alternative option, which is to build a new school next to the current Thoroughgood, but the staff doesn't recommend that plan because it'll cost more than an extra million and extend the timeline by nearly a year.
Board members were split after comments. Some suggest delaying the project, looking for other alternatives, and deciding which is best. Board member, Dorothy Holtz, was okay with moving forward because she feels concerns raised have been addressed by the plans already.
"Didn't we say there was going to be security on the outer grounds because we're hearing a lot of about two poor little kids getting stuck in the mud because did you say there was going to be security?" she said during the board's workshop, which got parents riled up.
Parents feel the district can hit the drawing board, and come back with a better alternative plan, one they feel will be safe and efficient.
A date has not been set yet for when facility staff will present alternative plans.