Orange County Schools is developing a student reassignment plan that could alter where students in the district attend school, but the Board of Education decided to delay action after a heated public meeting on Monday.
The plan comes as an effort to help balance socio-economics and alleviate under and overcrowding throughout the school district — specifically, the elementary schools. The plan would also accommodate residential growth in Hillsborough and Mebane and improve older facilities, such as Hillsborough Elementary School.
“It’s no secret that we have aging facilities that require renovations comparable to the cost of building a brand new school,” said Jake Henry, chief operations officer for the school district, at an Orange County Schools Board of Education meeting on Aug. 12. “One of the specific examples of that is Hillsborough Elementary, which based on our standards for construction, requires a significant amount of renovations.”
According to OCS construction standards, third to fifth grade classrooms, the learning commons, administrative offices and teacher and student support areas of Hillsborough Elementary School are too small.
The reassignment plan is also being developed in light of a school assignment and demographic study conducted by the N.C. State University Operations Research and Education Laboratory, known as OREd, a third party evaluation research group that offers data-driven school planning solutions.
By conducting a land-use study, OREd was able to create a 10-year membership prediction for the district.
According to the prediction, Cameron Park Elementary School, Efland Cheeks Elementary School, Grady Brown Elementary School, Hillsborough Elementary School and New Hope Elementary School will all be over capacity by 2023.
But the elementary school predictions do not account for pre-K classes, kindergarten through third grade class size changes or exceptional children’s classes with four students.
Will Atherton, chairperson of the OCS Board of Education, said at the Aug. 12 meeting that this means the predictions are inaccurate, and the board needs to understand what it's really working with.