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The Daily Tar Heel

School Board Hears Redistricting Fears

Representatives of the Lake Hogan Farms community voiced their concern about a proposed solution to overcrowding at Thursday's meeting of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education. The plan involves spot redistricting near McDougle Elementary School, and residents are asking the board to come up with new answers for the school system.

One of the board's plans includes the redistricting of Lake Hogan Farms developments Bolin Ridge and Glenn Ridge, which would affect the future sites of 98 homes to be developed within the next six months. While the areas are presently in the McDougle Elementary School district, the redistricted areas would become part of the Carrboro Elementary School district under the proposal.

Although the alternate recommendation would not make students of McDougle subject to redistricting, residents still are concerned that fragmentation of the neighborhood and community could result.

Claire Rockman, Jeff Walton and Kelly Wayne, who acted as representatives for the Lake Hogan Farms community, asked the board not to split up the neighborhood because it would disrupt the lives of the children.

"We are asking you, imploring you, don't separate our children," Rockman said. "Don't divide our neighborhood."

Wayne said the neighborhood was affected by redistricting in 1999 and will likely be impacted again when two new elementary schools open in 2003.

Despite the residents' concerns, the board said it will continue to discuss the redistricting plan. "The idea of not redistricting at all is unrealistic," board member Maryanne Rosenman said.

But Superintendent Neil Pedersen warned fellow board members against the quick fix that redistricting would provide.

"All of these alternatives would work for the next year, but some of them wouldn't work for longer," he said. "At some point we need to increase our capacity drastically, even before our new elementary schools come on line."

Erin Denniston, co-chairwoman of McDougle's Self Governance Committee, said the growth of the number of students in the district is difficult to predict from year to year.

Some of the yearly influx into the school district is due to the reputation for excellence that the schools have.

Pedersen said there are 45 teachers in the system certified by the State Board of Education, more than any other system in the state. "They bring a level of excellence, which really benefits our school system," he said.

The school board will have a planning retreat Feb. 12-13 and will announce its final solution to overcrowding at its meeting on March 1.

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