Tentative redistricting plans set for NHC Schools - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Tentative redistricting plans set for NHC Schools

Elementary students would go to their newly assigned schools beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. (Source: WECT) Elementary students would go to their newly assigned schools beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. (Source: WECT)

School redistricting is a nerve-racking experience for parents. Not knowing if their kids will continue to go to the school they are attending now, or be rezoned to a new school that is unfamiliar and may separate them from their friends is frustrating.

Despite the unpopularity of redistricting, severe overcrowding in New Hanover County classrooms is forcing the school board to make changes.

Elementary School Redistricting

If everything goes according to tentative plans, a redistricting committee would develop new elementary maps beginning this November, and have them ready to present to the school board in May.

The board would tweak those maps next summer, then seek public input in August 2018. The final redistricting plan would be approved in the fall of 2018, and then the kids would go to their newly assigned schools two years later in August 2020.

"The main focus at this point though is the elementary schools and letting parents know well in advance of the elementary lines where they will be redistricted because with Porter's Neck (Elementary) being up in the northern part of the county, redistricting on the elementary level is going to affect just about every elementary school we have," New Hanover County School Board Member Don Hayes said.

“We know it’s traumatic and that’s why we try to do it the least amount of times possible. You don’t want to make a movement and then have to move them again later. So you want something long range and that’s what we are trying to do.”

Even with the newly constructed Porter’s Neck Elementary, NHCS will still have more elementary students than it has space for them. The school board is eying some vacant property next to Mary C. Williams Elementary in the Monkey Junction area that could be used to expand that school and accommodate the growing population.

Middle and High School Redistricting

There is significant overcrowding at every level in New Hanover County Schools, so the school board will also need to redistrict middle and high school students. Hayes says nothing is set in stone, but he predicts those changes will happen sooner than the elementary school changes, likely within the next year or two.

Hayes says because there are fewer schools, the redistricting process is much simpler at the middle and high school levels. He says it is especially necessary for Laney High School which is currently over capacity by 600 students, and Ashley High which is overcrowded by 200. Hoggard High School is at capacity, and New Hanover High is under capacity by about 100 students.

High school students are typically given some flexibility in the redistricting process with the option to stay at their current school rather being forced to change schools their junior or senior year.

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