Redistricting plan passes school board

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education passed a redistricting plan Thursday night that will require more than 1,000 elementary students to change schools in August.

The plan, approved by the board 5-2, takes socioeconomic diversity, as well as geography, of students into account.

“Not overburdening any one school gives all of our students an equitable opportunity to be in a diverse environment,” said board member Gregory McElveen.

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The majority of the redistricted elementary school students will make up the inaugural classes of Northside Elementary, the system’s newest elementary school.

The district first identified a need for an eleventh elementary school more than four years ago, as overcrowding in the system’s existing elementary schools mounted.

The board also unanimously approved a spot redistricting plan for high school students at the meeting. The plan will move about 100 Carrboro High School students to Chapel Hill High School or East Chapel Hill High School.

The redistricting effort began in August, when a Redistricting Advisory Council was formed to make recommendations to the Board of Education. The board reviewed the four proposed redistricting plans in December during two public hearings, and plan 2.1 appeared as a frontrunner.

The board ultimately passed a slightly revised version of plan 2.1 — which added two residential areas to Northside’s district and allowed Frank Porter Graham Elementary School fourth and fifth graders to remain at the school without bus transportation.

Parents who spoke during the public comment lauded the board and council for their goals in redistricting, but they said they wished there had been more transparency and opportunity for input.

Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese said parent voices were crucial to the plans and the format of the process itself.

“This process was developed by parents and staff following the last redistricting,” he said.

He said the time frame of the process had to be shorter because the board wanted to use the most current student data possible, which meant it had to move more quickly.

But McElveen said he wished the plans could’ve better reflected parents’ voices and concerns about issues like long bus rides and uprooting their children.

“There’s a difference between listening and being able to act upon it,” he said.

Board member Mike Kelley voted against the proposal because travel time was not examined closely enough.

“I don’t support the process, and I don’t see how the fruit of that process could be supported,” he said.

LoFrese said travel time is a less important issue in such a small district.

“Chances are no matter where you are, your school is only going to be a few miles from your house,” he said.

Contact the desk editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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