Shakeup on NHC Board of Education shouldn’t take focus off redistricting plans

A final vote on the issue is scheduled for January

Shakeup on NHC Board of Education shouldn’t take focus off redistricting plans

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - With a major Election Day shakeup on the New Hanover County Board of Education, parents have been left wondering about the future of the school redistricting process.

Three incumbent board members up for re-election — Janice Cavenaugh, Donald Hayes and Bruce Shell — lost their seats to newcomers. Cavenaugh, Hayes and Shell are all Republicans with more than 75 years of combined experience on the board.

Their spots will be filled by Democrats Stefanie Adams, Judy Justice, and Nelson Beaulieu and Republican Bill Rivenbark.

The board will still have a Republican majority of 4-3. Republican members Jeannette Nichols, Lisa Estep, and David Wortman were not up for re-election.

Redistricting has been a challenging issue for the board for more than a year. The current board is on its third re-write of the redistricting plan.

Wortman said he does not believe the political makeup of the board will affect how it functions.

"I don't think it really will effect the redistricting timeline a lot," Wortman said. "The four new people will certainly bring some new ideas to the process, but I know that all four of them have been really involved in watching the redistricting process.”

The final vote on re-districting is scheduled for January after the four new members are sworn in in December.

Wortman said he thinks a plan will be passed in January since all the new members agree something needs to be done.

The newcomers are likely to bring new ideas to the table. Beaulieu talked about exploring a delayed implementation approach.

"When I say delayed implementation, I mean kindergarten, sixth grade, and ninth grade classes are the ones affected," Beaulieu said on WECT's Carolina in the Morning newscast Wednesday. "One thing you always run into with this issue is a fear that your child is going to be moved in the middle. If we do it this way, it will take six years to fully redistrict schools but the last thing we want to do is hurt a kid to try to help the community.”

Like many directly or indirectly involved in the process, Wortman is hopeful a solution to the redistricting issue will come sooner rather than later.

"We wish we could have done something last year, but the process was a little bit rushed," Wortman said. "We're 15, 16 months into the process now. Parents have known for over a year that this is eventaully going to happen.

"Certainly we can listen to what some of the new board members say and take it into consideration. That's important to the process but ultimately, it's really about solving the problem now."

Board members will host three public input sessions on the revised redistricting plan.

The first will be at Williston Middle School on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The second will be at Holly Shelter Middle School on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 5:30 and the final input session will be on Nov. 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Minnie Evans Performing Arts Center.

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