NHC school board makes final decision on redistricting

Posted by Debra Worley - email

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The New Hanover County school board voted 4 to 3 on map 2C, a neighborhood schools plan, for middle school redistricting.

The three board members who were against the map are Dorothy DeSheilds, Elizabeth Redenbaugh, and Nick Rhodes because they say it doesn't fix the problems the school system is facing.

"I don't think we achieved the objectives that we set out to achieve -- relieving over-crowding, reducing distances for some of our students and reducing free and reduced lunch populations in some of our schools," says Rhodes. "We didn't achieve any of that, so that's why I voted against it."

Now, Rhodes is calling for the school system to find ways to help economically disadvantaged students and schools.

"I think the board took the time and listened to the concerns of the majority of the parents and did the best they could do with the numbers they were given," says Mitch Cook, a parent.

Some parents are happy with map 2C, but others see the vote as a missed opportunity.

"My hope was for 3B, because I strongly feel like if we can balance the schools socio-economically, then every child has an equal chance, and then we build from there," says Susan Coleman, another parent.

A philosophy that continues to divide the school board.

"Some of us were trying to pander to certain communities as opposed to trying to do the right thing for all the students in New Hanover County," says Rhodes.

The three board members who voted against the plan have asked superintendent Al Lerch to give a presentation at their next meeting on how to bridge the gap between high-income schools with low-income schools.

Holly Shelter Middle School is set to open in the fall of 2010 in the Castle Hayne area, which is the reason for the redistricting.

The school board has been working on redistricting since summer 2009 and had developed several proposed maps.

Click here to see the original proposed maps

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