MONROE – Residents from across the school district came together Tuesday, Jan. 14, to hear a presentation on the proposed redistricting changes that will affect most students in western Union County
The proposed changes are a response to the current capping procedures Union County Public Schools has put in place that require all new students be bussed to a different campus once their current school reaches 120 percent capacity – as Kensington Elementary and Marvin Ridge and Porter Ridge middle schools already have hit. New Town Elementary, Sandy Ridge Elementary, Unionville Elementary, Cuthbertson Middle, Porter Ridge High, Weddington Middle and South Providence schools are all in the watch area of 110 to 119 percent capacity.
While UCPS is looking at a number of options to deal with the rapid population growth western Union County has seen, there may be no option but to redistrict, some officials have said.
“We are looking at modular units, we are looking at brick and mortar construction. We are looking at track schools, intermediate schools, potential capping and busing, and what a lot of folks don’t realize, even if in a perfect world where were are able to utilize new brick and mortar … there would still be about 4,000 students that will be influx and be redistricted,” Facilities Committee Chairman Kevin Stewart said following the meeting.
Members of the Facilities Committee discussed the schools cluster by cluster to give parents and community members an idea of what changes they would see if the board
The Cuthbertson cluster will see the largest impact from the proposed changes. All schools currently in the cluster, Kensington and New Town elementary and Cuthbertson middle and high schools, are projected to be capped or in the watch area by the 2015-16 school year. Kensington and Cuthbertson Middle are projected to see a cap during the 2014-15 school year. Redistricting changes will bring all four schools out of a capping or watch situation by the 2014-15 school year.
If the board decides not to move forward with redistricting, schools that are projected to see a cap within the next five years are: Kensington Elementary and Marvin Ridge, Cuthbertson, Weddington and Porter Ridge middle and high schools. Projections show no schools would be capped within the next five years if the redistricting is implemented for the coming 2014-15 school year.
“Regardless of the scenario we use to address the overcrowding in our schools, students are going to have to be redistricted through new construction or utilization of existing seats,” Stewart said. “That’s always a challenge. And, of course, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is we have a lot of maintenance issues we are still trying to get in front of in our schools.”
But parents are still concerned their children might have to move from their current school to a different, lower-ranking campus. Rising seniors are currently exempt from any redistricting changes, and there was some discussion during Tuesday’s meeting to also grandfather in rising juniors to allow them to remain at their current high schools.
“Some folks just aren’t aware that the neighborhood schools can offer the same education as the schools they are in now,” Stewart said. “… Union County is a system that is recognized nationally for our scores and achievement. I, for one, believe that our whole system is worthy of praise.”
Schools that will not see any change or will only take on new students, with no current students being moved to another school, are: Rea View, Shiloh, Hemby Bridge, Poplin, Sardis, Fairview, New Salem, Rock Rest and Prospect elementary schools. The Forest Hills cluster also will not see any change or outward movement of students.
A list of maps for each affected school as well as subdivisions that will be affected and changes in population the redistricting would bring to each school is available online at www.ucps.k12.nc.us/links/redis tricting.php.
The board will discuss the proposals at its Jan. 23 work session at the Walter Bickett Education Center, 501 Lancaster Ave., at 6 p.m.