STUTTGART, Germany — Last August, Stuttgart parents shouted down a school rezoning plan presented to them just days before the school year started.

The plan would have required dozens of the district’s youngest children, some as young as 5, to endure hourlong bus rides to and from school each day. After being chastised for serving up what many considered a half-baked plan, school and garrison officials retreated — quickly.

Two days later they rolled out a new, more palatable rezoning plan just in time for the first day of school.

This year the community is getting an earlier start. A town hall meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Patch Theater to discuss the ebbing and flowing Stuttgart schools situation.

“We don’t want to wait until the last minute,” said Col. Richard M. Pastore Jr., the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart commander.

“I wanted to start this dialogue well before the current school year ends so we have the opportunity to get input from the parents and the school advisory committees as we go about planning.”

Pastore said he expected to hold at least two more town hall meetings in the coming months.

Stuttgart has struggled with school issues in recent years due to an increasing population of military families flocking to the southern side of the city. The boom caused some classrooms to overflow in south-side schools, while an elementary-middle school on the north side of town had room for more students.

Pastore arrived last summer and inherited a festering, contentious atmosphere between parents and school planners.

“Look at all the expertise in this crowd,” one man said at last August’s angry town hall meeting, gesturing to the numerous high-ranking officers and spouses in attendance. “Why weren’t we consulted?”

“This is a poor judgment,” said another.

Pastore said he has encouraged give and take this year between parents and school officials. He said negative feedback has been conspicuously absent on previous hot-button issues, such as the length of bus routes and overcrowded classrooms.

“That tells me those things are going quite well,” Pastore said.

A top future need, Pastore said, is for parents to register their children as soon as possible. This is especially necessary as the community grows to accommodate the U.S. Africa Command, which is expected this year to add at least 700 staff and their children.

The sooner it’s known how many students the district will have and where they’ll live, the sooner the schools and garrison can plan items such as classroom size, bus routes, child care and youth activities.

Pastore said he did not expect that the district would need to be rezoned again this year, which would have caused some students to change schools. But rezoning would not be ruled out until next year’s enrollment figures are more certain.

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