PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Due to rapid growth in the area, some Pender County Schools are overcrowded, which has lead the school district to rezone. Dozens of parents voiced their concerns over the rezoning plan at a meeting Tuesday night.
Pender County Schools held the first of two meetings to get the community's input on rezoning several schools in the upcoming year. Two new schools will be built to combat overcrowding in Surf City. Surf City Elementary and Surf City Middle are expected to open next fall.
Around 100 parents showed up to Tuesday's meeting at North Topsail Elementary, many from the Belvedere community.
"I'm very concerned with this plan and I don't feel like it's in the best interest for the Belvedere community," North Topsail parent Ann McDonald said.
Many of the Belvedere area parents drive only a few minutes to get their children to school now. They say rezoning to Surf City would force them to travel 10 or more miles.
They also noted many parents work in Wilmington, which would add even more time to their commute.
The other major concern was over who would be staffing the new schools.
Parents said they bought their homes because they wanted their children to attend North Topsail.
Now, they want to be sure their children will be getting the same level of education.
"I was really just concerned about the staffing for the new school," Hampstead resident Lindsay Cashin said. "I don't have a problem with moving. We're equal distance between the new school in Surf City and here.
"My concern is just, who would be staffing? Who's going to be teaching my children? They're young, second grade and first grade right now. So they will be in the Surf City school. How are they going to grow? How are they going to be educated?"
The school board said some of the North and South Topsail Elementary teachers would go to the new Surf City schools. They emphasized they would not be hiring a whole new staff.
However, some were still concerned. The growth means new teachers will have to be added eventually, which is something parents said both the school board and the planning board should be considering.
"I understand the idea of the amount of children that should be in the classroom with the amount of staff," Cashin said. "However, as other individuals here did say, it's a growing population here so it's going to have to be addressed again in a few years, especially once they're going up into the high school level."
The district plans to change current zoning in the Hampstead/Topsail area after the opening of the new Surf City Elementary and Middle School.
A view of the proposed redistricting can be found below.
For more information on the changes, click here.