The Orange County School Board unanimously approved a new school assignment policy on Jan. 14 in preparation for future school redistricting.
According to the new policy, key concerns in redistricting are improving student achievement, keeping current students at their currents schools, maintaining proximity to schools and increasing operational efficiency. The policy also grants the Board power to cap the number of students in schools and lays out a process for transfer students.
Attendance imbalances are the main driver of the Board’s decision, with some schools being overcrowded and others under capacity. For example, according to N.C. State Board of Education data, Central Elementary’s total number of students is below the North Carolina average, while Cameron Park Elementary’s numbers are higher.
“It's just not operationally efficient, and it's been so long,” Orange County School Board member Hillary MacKenzie said. “We just need to revisit it. Every school district needs to do this every once and while, and it's our time — it's really past time.”
The policy provides exceptions for rising fifth graders and eighth graders, who have the opportunity to stay in their current district for one additional year. This exemption also applies to current high schoolers. The policy also seeks to avoid splitting neighborhoods along district lines, while maximizing transportation efficiencies and minimizing the need for mobile classrooms.