The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday September 29th

Diversity a priority for city schools

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools officials are striving for diversity as they move forward with redistricting plans for elementary school students.

A redistricting advisory council met Monday to discuss the first of four redistricting proposals, one of which will go into effect in the 2013-14 school year with the opening of Northside Elementary School.

The redistricting process aims to alleviate crowding in elementary schools and redistribute students when a new school opens.

Laura Dudley, an advisory council member and teacher assistant at Ephesus Elementary School, said the first plan minimizes the number of students moved but does not balance the number of at-risk students at each school.

“The biggest thing is that it didn’t really balance the schools as far as the socioeconomic status goes,” she said.

Dudley said she has served on two redistricting advisory councils, and this is the first time the members did not draft the proposals.

Instead, an administrative team drafted the four plans.

The school system last underwent redistricting in 2008 when Morris Grove Elementary School opened.

Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese said during the 2008 process the advisory council used data that was more than a year old.

LoFrese said an administrative team is drawing the proposed maps this year to ensure data is accurate.

“The Board of Education was not satisfied with the process,” he said.

He said the 2008 advisory council did not account for those who changed addresses or moved in and out of the system within the past year.

“When you’re working with data that’s a year old, you could have 12, 15 percent of your students that are in a different place than when you started,” he said.

LoFrese said his main priority is making sure the schools are balanced in terms of achievement, busing, socioeconomic status and capacity.

“Since the 1990s, the district has had schools that are at, near or above capacity,” he said.

LoFrese said this year’s redistricting will be based on 2012 end-of-grade testing data, enrollment data from Sept. 24 and at-risk student data from this school year.

The council will meet three more times this month to discuss the other plans.

LoFrese said two public input sessions for the redistricting proposals will be held in December.

The Board of Education will review the proposals on Dec. 20 and give feedback.

LoFrese said the board is expected to make a decision on Jan. 17 — in time for kindergarten registration.

“We need to know where those kids are going,” he said.

Estes Hills Elementary School Principal Cheryl Carnahan will become principal of Northside Elementary School when it opens next fall.

She said she trusts that administrators will achieve a balanced redistricting process.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” she said.

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