Leaders in towns across western Union County are standing behind frustrated parents in their communities in speaking out against the push to redistrict more than 5,800 students in Union County Public Schools.
Marvin, Stallings, Waxhaw and Wesley Chapel have reached out to the Union County Board of Education in hopes of finding alternatives to redistricting, which would uproot many students and families and send them to schools further away from their homes in order to alleviate overcrowding. Marvin Mayor Joe Pollino wrote a letter, which was approved by the Marvin Village Council, to the school board in hopes of discussing other options, while Stallings, Waxhaw and Wesley Chapel all passed resolutions in regards to redistricting. Indian Trail held a special meeting Wednesday night, Feb. 5, after Union County Weekly’s press deadline to vote on a similar resolution, and Weddington leaders are scheduled to discuss overcrowding and possible action during the town’s council retreat on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 6 and 7.
“The emotion around this was just very, very heated, and I think by us taking the approach of considering a resolution helped to acknowledge our constituents’ concerns and secondly express them to the board in a creative way,” Wesley Chapel Mayor Brad Horvath said.
Boards throughout the county want to not only find a better solution to redistricting, but also work with the board of education to provide better planning for the future. Waxhaw commissioners, whom many have blamed for some of the overwhelming growth seen in the western part of the county, included language in their resolution to encourage the school board, commissioners and other groups to all sit down together to talk about viable solutions in planning for the future of UCPS.
“What I’m hoping to be able to bring out of this current crisis is beginning a conversation with all of the responsible parties, and that includes not only the school board but the municipalities and the private sector. Bring everyone to the table and let’s talk about a better way to collaborate with one another to plan for our growth,” Waxhaw Mayor Daune Gardner said in an interview with Union County Weekly in January.
The school board was scheduled to continue the overcrowding discussion during its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4, but removed the presentation from the agenda following an offer from the Union County Board of Commissioners for $3 million to help provide 49 mobile units to help ease overcrowding in school buildings. The school board plans to discuss other options, including the additional funding, at an upcoming work session, though some school officials have already said mobile units won’t prevent the need for some redistricting.
Although the overcrowding discussion was removed from the agenda, many community members and parents still spoke to the board in regard to their opposition to a countywide redistricting plan.
“I was thrilled when I woke up this morning and saw that the board of commissioners voted to give UCPS $3 million for the purchase of additional trailers at our schools at last night’s meeting,” said Lisa Hall, who spoke on behalf of the Berkshire neighborhood currently in the Cuthbertson cluster at the Feb. 4 meeting. “… We are here to urge the board of education to please slow down the entire redistricting process and take time to explore other
UCPS currently has a capping procedure in place where all schools over 120 percent capacity cannot enroll new students. All students over the 120 percent mark are bused to other schools in the county that have not been capped.