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MONROE, N.C. -- A little perspective on the Union County school redistricting fight that s brought some parents to tears. If you want to understand the story, just look at the growth.

You can see Union County s population has nearly tripled since 1984, going from about 75,000 to nearly 210,000 today:



Most of that growth was fueled by people leaving Mecklenburg County. The taxes in Union County are lower. People gravitated toward Union County s schools, which were less crowded than Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, where mobile classrooms were added to keep up with an influx of students.

Here s another perspective of Union County s growth, via Google Earth Engine. You can see U.S. 74, which runs from the top-center to the bottom right, explode with growth from 1984 through 2012:



The growth in Union County has been uneven over just the last 20 years, as towns near Charlotte in the western part of the county (Indian Trail, Waxhaw, Weddington, Stallings) have added a lot of people, while towns in the eastern part of the county (Wingate, Marshville) have seen their populations slightly decline:

To keep up with the growth, the Union County Commission has proposed paying $3 million for portable classrooms, similar to Charlotte s. That proposal has been shot down twice by the school board, which sued the commission for more funding and won.

Monday s night s abrupt vote to redistrict came as a surprise to many parents. Regardless of the effect, it s easy to see the cause of an increasingly tough set of decisions surrounding a school district that s trying to keep its head above water.

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