Parents in New Hanover County speak out about redistricting

Reported by Claire Simms - bio|email
Posted by Theresa Swenson - email

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Holly Shelter Middle School will be opening next school year, which means New Hanover County school board members have big decisions to make regarding redistricting.

Residents in Echo Farms are concerned the move will affect their property values, gas budget, and, most importantly, their children.

The Echo Farms meeting room was filled with parents Tuesday.  They're upset about proposed plans to move their children from Myrtle Grove Middle School to Williston Middle School.

"Increased time that children are going to have to be transported on major roads with a lot of traffic," said Taylor Jones, Echo Farms H.O.A. and parent.  "So we have concerns for safety.  We have increased cost of bussing and gas."

Myrtle Grove is about two to three miles from homes in Echo Farms, while Williston is six to seven miles away.

Several parents worry the distance will decrease parental involvement and hurt their children's school experience.

"We won't be able to split our time up if we have more than one child going to middle and also to the Mary C. Williams district," said Susan Brown, parent.  "There's no way I can see that happening, especially with the need for volunteers in the schools right now."

Others worry about the quality of education their children will receive by moving from a high performing school to one that has struggled with test scores and Adequate Yearly Progress (A.Y.P.).

"You take a kid who is already vulnerable at that age and you uproot him into completely unfamiliar territory and you ask him at that critical age to leave his peers," said Scott Bennett, parent.  "To leave what is a clearly wonderful academic environment and you put him in a substandard environment.  I don't expect anything good to come from that."

Overall, homeowners in Echo Farms say their most significant concern is the distance.  They say Myrtle Grove, Roland Grise and Murray are all much closer to their homes than Williston.

The school board will discuss redistricting options at their meeting August 4.

Echo Farms residents say they will be at the meeting in full-force, wearing orange t-shirts - Myrtle Grove's school color.

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