BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The Brunswick County Board of Education on Monday hosted the first of two public meetings to share staff proposals on school lines for a new middle school and proposed changes for an overcrowded elementary school.
Dozens of parents showed up to the meeting at Town Creek Elementary to voice their concerns over what they feel is a lack of transparency from the school board. Parents said the possibility of redistricting 150 Belville Elementary students was brought up at the last school board meeting, but was not an agenda item. They say it was discussed under the Town Creek Middle agenda.
It could be voted on as early as April 2 and would go into effect for the 2019-20 school year.
Tiffany Brown, who has two children at Belville Elementary, said she feels parents were never notified of this change, and that this has made her lose trust in the board.
“I found out about it via a Facebook post and a text message from a really close friend," Brown said. "Our kids have been together since they were 2. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t even know this was happening.”
Due to continued growth in the county, Belville Elementary is overcrowded.
“Our transportation staff looked at groups of students that could be moved to Town Creek with the least amount of impact,” said Daniel Seamans, public information officer with Brunswick County School.
Seamans says the proposed new lines would affect 150 students in the Mallory Creek subdivision and an area south in the Belville school district.
Brunswick County Schools says Belville Elementary has 838 kids who attend the school where Town Creek is sitting at 674. The proposal suggests after moving children, Belville would go down to 674, and Town Creek to 672, bringing each school to capacity.
Many parents voiced concerns about traffic issues, longer bus times, and significantly increased driving time.
“Traffic, commute, hardship, financially, gas and mileage, time," Brown said. "I work in Wilmington. This sends me 30 miles out of the way round trip.”
Parents offered other suggestions including building another elementary school or expanding Belville, in addition to alternate uses for the new Town Creek Middle School. Many had questions for the board that went unanswered.
“It was something that the public wasn’t aware of," said Laura Inskeep, whose children would be affected by the middle school lines. “I think that it was maybe labeled incorrectly, and I also feel a little bit of disappointment that some of our questions weren’t answered. For example, they couldn’t tell me if my neighborhood was in the redistricting plan.”
The middle school proposal would take students from Leland Middle and South Brunswick Middle and move them to the new Town Creek Middle.
WECT asked board members for comment but was only told that questions would be answered as soon as possible and sent to parents via email, web, and social media. Seamans said all questions will be answered before the April 2 meeting.
Brunswick County Schools said an exception will be made for any rising fifth grader that goes to Belville and their siblings. Seamans said they would be exempt but would have to find their own transportation to school.
The second public input meeting is Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Brunswick County Commissioners chambers.
New lines will also be discussed for the new Town Creek Middle School that sits next to Town Creek Elementary.
Seamans said the board plans to vote on the proposal at its April 2 meeting.