UCPS moves forward with redistricting

After two months of discussions, the Union County Public Schools Board of Education voted 7-1 during its March 4 meeting to approve the countywide redistricting plan that could shift more than 3,300 students to new schools.

Although the original plan called for 5,800 students to relocate, the board amended the plan to grandfather in rising fifth-graders, eight-graders and all sitting high school students, if they can provide transportation. If 100 percent of students choose to stay at their current school, something UCPS Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis said has never happened in the past, a total of 2,014 students who were originally planned to be moved will stay in their home schools.

The school board also voted to keep the entire neighborhood of MillBridge in the Cuthbertson cluster. The original proposal split the Waxhaw neighborhood between the Cuthbertson and Parkwood clusters.

The call for the vote followed two four-hour public hearings on Feb. 27 and March 3, where school board members heard from 100 parents, students and community members about their concerns with the proposed plan. Many speakers referred to the plan as a temporary fix and called for long-term planning that would prevent redistricting in the near future. Many parents complained during the public comment process that their children had already been redistricted multiple times over the past 10
years.

“It literally makes me nauseous that we have failed to get any of you to stand with Sherry Hodges and Marce Savage against redistricting. … I have a feeling we are going to be here again in three more years,” Jill Carilli, a resident of Union County who isn’t affected by the redistricting, said during the Feb. 27 public hearing.

At-large board member Sherry Hodges was the sole member to vote against the redistricting plan, with Vice Chairperson Marce Savage walking out of the meeting prior to the vote. Chairman Richard Yercheck, District 1 representative John Crowder, District 2 representative Kevin Stewart, District 4 representative Richard Pigg, District 5 representative John Collins, at-large member Michael Guzman and at-large member Christina Helms all voted in favor of the plan, which was presented to the school board in early January. The vote was originally planned for early April.

“I’m surprised and I’m saddened because I guess I thought we were going to meet with the (Union County Board of Commissioners) and maybe something would have come from that,” Hodges said prior to the vote. “I can’t understand the rush to this, either. I’m not saying there are not overcrowding issues in our schools; there are, but the rush to get this done does not make sense to me.”

No other school board members commented prior to the
vote.

The redistricting plan comes at a time when some county schools, such as Kensington Elementary and Marvin and Porter Ridge middle schools, have been capped due to overcrowding, with other schools forecasted to pass the cap level within the next five years. When a school goes over 120 percent capacity, no new students will be allowed to enroll and will be bused to another school in the county that has open seats.

 

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