Thousands of Union Co. students could be forced to change schools

Thousands of Union Co. students could be forced to change schools

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by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on January 8, 2014 at 7:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 8 at 9:00 PM

UNION COUNTY, N.C. -- Nearly 6,000 Union County Public Schools students could end up in new schools next year due to redistricting.

The county is considering moving students and drawing new boundaries to manage growth and fight overcrowding. The preliminary plan would impact 19 of the district's 30 elementary schools and all middle and high schools.

The district's preliminary plan has parents worried about their children's safety and academic performance if they get moved to lower performing and older schools compared to the schools they are in now.

"I think it's frustrating as a parent not knowing your child's future, where they are going to go to school," said parent Dianna Albert, who has three children including a daughter at Cuthbertson Middle School.

Albert says her daughter Maggie is perfectly happy there, plus it's a highly rated school and only three miles from home.

According to the redistricting plan, hundreds of Cuthbertson Middle School students like Albert's daughter could end up elsewhere next year.

"By utilizing the available seats at other schools they are doing this at the expense of our children's safety.  My child would be on a bus for over an hour everyday, which is not cost effective or safe," Albert said.

Pamela Proetta doesn't want her daughter leaving Kensington Elementary School, but the redistricting plan calls for fewer students there due to overcrowding. The school has mobile classrooms, which are new this school year.

"I think she would be very unhappy. I don't think it's fair," Proetta said.

Losses as some schools mean gains at others.  For example, Parkwood Middle, Parkwood High and Piedmont High Schools would all gain students, according to the preliminary numbers.

Albert thinks her daughter could end up at Parkwood Middle School, which has a six star rating on the school rating website, compared to a 10 star rating for Cuthbertson Middle School.

"To a school that is dilapidated, old and literally falling apart," Albert said.

District officials say they believe in neighborhood schools and keeping students close to home. Their transportation funding is tied to ensuring short, convenient and efficient bus routes.

Albert says if her daughter is affected by redistricting, she might choose to home school her daughter instead.

"(I'm) that serious," she said.

Just who might end up where, what neighborhoods would be affected and what new boundaries would look like isn't known right now, but the district is expected to release that information next week.

The current redistricting plan is preliminary, has not been approved and is subject to multiple changes and public hearings.

The Union County School Board could vote on it in April.

The district recently capped enrollment at three schools, Marvin Ridge Middle, Porter Ridge Middle and Kensington Elementary to alleviate overcrowding at those schools.
 

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