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The Daily Tar Heel

Local School Officials Fight Overcrowding Issues

The system is addressing issues of overcrowding in schools, the Schools Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances and the Minority Student Achievement Plan.

But system Assistant Superintendent Steve Scroggs said overcrowding is detrimental to the quality of schools.

"Overcrowding affects all kids," he said. "It's not helping education. We don't need overcrowded schools."

He said although middle schools are not experiencing overcrowding, elementary and high schools are over capacity.

The school system will include 280 new students next year, adding to the 300-seat shortage it now faces. "We're expecting (high schools) to go over capacity next year," Scroggs said.

He said the way the system is tackling the issue of overcrowded schools is by adding new schools to the system. "We're building new school buildings," he said.

But Scroggs also stated the need for more methods to alleviate overcrowding.

"Overcrowding within schools is complex," he said. "We have things like trailers and mobile classrooms, but it's going to take more than that."

Board of Education Vice Chairwoman Teresa Williams said people do not always realize that overcrowding affects students inside and outside of the classroom.

"There are more children in the building than the building can support," Williams said. "(Overcrowding) really stresses the infrastructure. There are lines for the cafeteria and the bathrooms, as well as crowded hallways. But this is not just about what happens in the classroom."

Implementing SAPFO could also decrease the overcrowding problem in the future.

The school board is waiting for the towns of Carrboro and Hillsborough and the Orange County Commissioners to pass SAPFO, a proposed ordinance aiming to pace school and town growth.

The town of Chapel Hill and the school board already have approved SAPFO.

Scroggs said he hopes the others approve the ordinance as fast as possible.

"(SAPFO) is now in the process of being approved," Scroggs said. "Clearly the sooner the better."

Williams said SAPFO could help ensure that school growth keeps up with area expansion. "(SAPFO) could help the district plan and know that facilities will be in place for students," she said. "There's a clear benefit to the school district."

Scroggs said another pressing project for the school system is the minority achievement plan.

"Our main focus is minority student achievement," Scroggs said. "We have an extensive Minority Student Achievement Plan to meet the needs of minority kids."

The school board is hosting a workshop May 8 at the Hargraves Recreation Center, where members of the community can learn about the plan and share their opinions with the school board.

"The meeting is being held to review the achievement plan and break it down for the parents," Scroggs said.

"We wanted to be sure the community is buying into (the plan) and that they understand it."

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The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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