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Tue October 3, 2006
School Redistricting Redux
By Megan V. Williams
Wilmington, NC – Angry parents addressed the Board's October meeting, saying they were frustrated to learn through the district's website that their neighborhood school assignments had changed.
The complicated course to the current school boundaries started at a work session in June, when the School Board adopted a redistricting plan that would send most elementary students in New Hanover County to the school nearest their house.
To avoid creating African-American super-majorities' at Annie H. Snipes and Freeman Elementaries, the plan turned those schools into magnets. But in August the board decided to ease into the conversion, opening only 100 spots at each school to outside students in the first year, instead of the originally planned 500.
That change caused what assistant superintendent Al Lerch describes as a ripple effect' - the mandate that all children go to their closest school means more neighborhood children going to Snipes and Freeman forces all the surrounding schools had to change their borders too.
School board member Janice Cavenaugh, says in past weeks she's heard complaints from parents in two of the affected neighborhoods: Carolina Place, who were switched from Forest Hills to Snipes, and Lucia Point, which changes from Wrightsville Beach to College Park.
Cavanaugh defended the overall redistricting process, saying she's only heard public frustration during the current tweaking of the map.
The parents felt like their voices were not heard, Cavanaugh says, they were not able to have any type of say in the matter.
While Cavanaugh says parents have complained they had to learn about changes from a map on the District's website, Lerch says that during the August work session, Superintendent D. John Morris warned that the boundaries would need to shift.
The board intends to take up the current redistricting map at a work session at the end of October, but Lerch says the only true deadline to set school boundaries is mid-February next year, when students are due to receive their individual school assignments.
The new school boundaries take effect in the 2007-2008 school year.