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Redistricting committee reviews community comments

Posted Wednesday, February 7, 2007

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Siler City, NC - On Tuesday evening, February 6, the redistricting committee for the Siler City/Silk Hope area met at Siler City Elementary School. The primary meeting agenda items were to review comments from two recent information sessions and community email input and, secondly, to consider redistricting scenarios based on input.

As the meeting began, Superintendent Ann Hart answered a question about the construction timeline for Virginia Cross Elementary School. While construction is currently running slightly behind the original June deadline, she emphasized the district has a plan for classes in the event that the construction delays run into the opening of the school year. Classes would be intact from the beginning of the school year and could be temporarily housed at Siler City Elementary and Silk Hope as needed.

The committee used concerns voiced by parents and community members for its discussion. Primary areas of concern revolved around numbers of transfer students; the impact of current redistricting if scenarios changed to put students into the Pittsboro area district; grandfathering in rising Silk Hope eighth and possibly seventh graders and younger siblings to remain at Silk Hope; and leaving children currently in the dual language program at Siler City Elementary.

As the committee addressed the concerns, Dr. Hart noted that one third of the 319 transfer students countywide are children of staff. The idea of redistricting students into the Pittsboro area would further overload that district which, in general, is already overcrowded. The committee tends to favor giving 2007-2008 eighth graders the option to remain at Silk Hope. The district hopes to have dual language programs at Virginia Cross Elementary and at Siler City Elementary. Concern remains about whether there will be enough students interested in dual language to have programs at both schools.

Audience members asked about adding on to Silk Hope School. The capacity of areas like the cafeteria and media center are based on the original school size and would be impacted by building additions. Cost effectiveness is also an issue because it is often more cost efficient to build a new school rather than add to an existing one.

Questions have arisen about redistricting high school feeder schools at this time. The committee does not favor a scenario that would move any students out of the Jordan-Matthews district.

The three current redistricting scenarios have Silk Hope over its rated capacity. Because of logistical issues like transportation, the three scenarios have left Silk Hope over rated capacity.

Finally, the committee voiced its preferences for the ranking of the scenarios to present to the Board of Education. The committee recommends scenario D as its primary recommendation, scenario B as its second choice, and scenario A as its third choice. (Scenario C was deleted in a previous committee meeting.)

The committee discussed the impact of grandfathering in 2007-08 seventh and eighth graders and their siblings at Silk Hope School. The Board would need to look at the impact on student numbers in its consideration.

Hart will give a redistricting report at the upcoming Board of Education meeting on February 12 at Pittsboro Elementary School. At the Board meeting on February 26 at Horton Middle School, the Board will have redistricting on its agenda.

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