People speak for, against redistricting at final NHC Schools forum: ‘At the end of the day, it’s about the kids’

People speak for, against redistricting at final NHC Schools forum: ‘At the end of the day, it’s abo

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - About 30 people attended the third and final public forum on redistricting of New Hanover County Schools on Wednesday night.

Students could be going to different schools next year based on the new map.

The latest middle and high school redistricting maps can be found here. You can also submit comments to the school board here.

During the forum at Ashley High School, members of the school board listened as people shared their opinions on the current redistricting proposal. Speakers included parents, teachers, and students.

Copies of the redistricting maps were on hand for people to examine, as well as laptops for people to submit public comments online.

Kiley Canter, a sixth grade student, would have to change middle schools as a result of the redistricting plan. She said her academics, extracurricular activities, and friendships would be negatively impacted.

"This whole thing is about how they are moving kids to either boost the school or to make them not overcrowded, but you can't just move students," said Canter. "You have to think about what's best for them, and how that's going to affect their future. It could affect their high school, colleges, and could even affect what jobs they get."

Among the proposed changes, a total of 641 students would go to a different middle school. The biggest shift is moving 142 students from Williston Middle School to Holly Shelter Middle School, which is currently under capacity.

Noble Middle School is 207 students over capacity. The plan is to move some of these students to Holly Shelter and Williston to even things out.

One parent of a middle school student who would be redistricted from Williston to Noble voiced her support of the redistricting plan.

“I’m here to 'vote for’ the redistricting. For all the people that might be a little complacent, and not happy with the changes, it would be an incredible, wonderful change for our neighborhood,” said the parent.

She said home sales have been low in the neighborhood because of the long distances kids must travel to schools.

“Not to say Williston is a bad school, but it’s probably a 45-minute, one-hour bus ride,” said the parent. “And my whole neighborhood has been in that small neighborhood cut out to go to Williston for many years.”

Kevin Piner has two kids who would be affected by the proposed redistricting, and he opposes the changes.

“You’ve got to look at kids that have already established themselves at a school," Piner said. "I think you need to give them extra consideration. I think that’s the right thing to do for the kids.”

Piner worries the efforts his son has made at Murray Middle School would be erased.

“As a father, you teach your kid to get out there and try hard. ‘I want you to get out there. I want you to be part of something,’ and he’s done that at Murray, and he’s proud of that school,” said Piner. “And there’s a possibility that, due to the redistricting, you’re going to turn around and say, ‘You know what, none of that matters anymore and we’re moving you to another school.’”

For the proposed high school changes, a total of 690 students would be moved.

Laney High School is about 400 students over capacity, and New Hanover High School is about 112 students under capacity. The updated map would move about 315 students from Laney to New Hanover High.

At a previous public forum, the concept of senior privilege was discussed.

Redistricting in New Hanover County Schools was originally planned for this school year, but a series of votes delayed the planning and implementation until the 2019-20 school year.

Several new school board members were voted in during November’s election. They will take over Dec. 12, and it’s not clear exactly how the change will impact redistricting.

In December, the Board of Education will hold a work session to update the maps again based on the public’s input.

In January, the board will vote on the plans and start rolling out the changes for 2019-20. Students would receive a letter in March informing them of which school they will attend the following year.

“I know everybody is a little upset and on edge. At the end of the day, it’s about the kids,” said Piner.

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