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Guilford County School Board Considers Factors In Drawing Districts

11:26 PM, Sep 26, 2011   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Redistricting proposals for Guilford County's newest school continues to spark debate among community members.

In order to fill the new Ronald McNair Elementary School, the district has to pull students from other attendance zones.

Where the school board draws the lines is what has some parents fired up. They had the opportunity to address the school board Monday night.

"I've looked at the four options and unfortunately, out of all the options, we really don't have an option," said one parent.

"I think breaking up the Lake Jeannette community is the worst possible scenario that we could do for our children," said another.

School Board Chair Alan Duncan said while it is great to see parents so passionate about their children's education, it's not always easy to give them what they want.

Northern, Brightwood, and Jesse Wharton Elementary schools are all maxed out. They use a lot of modular units to accommodate students.

A new elementary school will help relieve that over-crowding, but drawing the lines can be difficult.

"It's a process that's sometimes emotionally difficult for some people. We're going to try to be very organized, give everybody lots of input and work through this in a good orderly manner, hopefully make some decisions that make the best sense," Duncan said.

Duncan said there are about a dozen factors the school board has to consider while drawing a district, but there are four major factors.

The board has to consider logical transportation. The schools try their best not to put school buses on highways. So, they try to make sure students can be bused from their neighborhoods within the district on local roads.

Districts should also include natural boundaries. That can include highways, a body of water or other landmark. However, Duncan said districts can't always buy land and build a school smack dab in the middle of where the district logically should be.

"Sometimes a school is sited close to where the attendance line ends up being because unfortunately, that's just where you had to site the new school. But you knew the children were going to come from an area farther away," he said.

Diversity is also taken into consideration when drawing school districts. The board tries to draw lines to make sure they encompass students of all different racial and ethnic backgrounds. That can be a challenge because sometimes neighborhoods and communities, clustered together, have the same demographics.

The board also tries to make sure there's a minimal impact on communities. However, with larger communities there ends up being a lot of compromise.

"The first question you should always have in every decision you make is, what is in the best interest of all of our students? We have these kinds of decisions that are difficult all the time," Duncan said.

None of the options for the new elementary school are a done deal. After the board receives all of the comments and concerns from the community, it will have to go back, tweak those proposals, and present them again. They hope to make a final decision by the end of January.  

If you couldn't make it to Monday night's public forum, there will be two more.

Monday, October 3 at Andrews High School in High Point
Thursday, October 13 at Page High School in Greensboro
Both meetings will be from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm.

What questions can parents ask BEFORE moving into a home zoned for a specific school?

1) Don't just look at the school's teachers and test scores.
Call the district or go online and ask about the school's current population. That can help you figure out if it's overcrowded.
2) You can also ask your realtor or the area planning board if the neighborhood is going to grow with new construction.
If so, that may be a sign a new school may be down the road.

WFMY News 2

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