Parents Raise Concerns on Proposed Attendance Lines
Travel distance and traffic were the biggest concerns raised by parents who spoke Thursday during a public hearing on attendance boundaries for two new schools scheduled to open at the beginning of the 2010-2011 academic year.
Seven people who spoke had concerns about issues relating to West Pine Elementary, which will take in students from West End and Pinehurst Elementary schools.
It will relieve overcrowding at Pinehurst Elementary. West Pine Elementary will be in the Pinecrest High School attendance area.
Parent Tim Murphy questioned the logic behind how the district lines were drawn.
"We literally have to drive by Pinehurst Elementary School to go farther out west on 211," Murphy said. "It's a difficult thing to swallow when you drive by your school to take your child to another school."
Murphy said he and his wife, along with friends and fellow military personnel, did extensive research on the schools in the area and chose to live in Village Acres because of the school his children would attend.
"My wife and I chose Village Acres because we heard about the reputation of Pinehurst Elementary School, and that's why we made the decision to go there," Murphy said.
Catherine Keller also questioned the process the school system used to determine the boundaries. She also pointed out that residents of Village Acres are much closer to Pinehurst Elementary and should go there rather than to West Pine Elementary.
Murphy suggested the school system could make allowances for certain families, especially those who live so close to Pinehurst Elementary.
Tim Lussier, a spokesman for the school system, said after the meeting that the school board has yet to address any policy that would allow families to petition to keep their children in their current school.
"We've had folks ask us that question, and it will be addressed at some point," Lussier said.
Tamara Mackey, of Foxfire Village, complained about the "horrendous" traffic problems on N.C. 211 that will only get worse with the new school, saying it would be a hardship for her child to go the new school.
"It's already an issue on 211 with the middle school (West Pine Middle) and the elementary there," Mackey said. "But it's going to be twice as much traffic, twice as many students and the buses, and it's already horrendous."
Chris Smithson, a Southern Pines Town Council member, also voiced concerns about the location of the school and how that shaped the makeup of the schools. He questioned the board's willingness to address, in public, issues such as resegregation of the schools and the perceived gerrymandering of school district lines. He questioned why students living in CCNC and The National are sent to West Pine Middle instead of Southern Middle.
"You seem uninterested in addressing real injustices in our school system," he said.
The other new school, Crain's Creek Middle, will help relieve overcrowding at New Century Middle, which is the only middle school presently serving that area. Crain's Creek Middle is in the Union Pines attendance rea.
The school board is expected to make a final decision on the attendance lines at its March 8 meeting. The board heard a presentation from Deputy Superintendent Larry Upchurch on the proposed attendance lines at its Jan. 7 meeting.
The attendance district proposal for West Pine Elementary pulls 315 students out of Pinehurst Elementary and about 114 students from West End Elementary, for a total of 429 students at the new school. About 30 percent of that population would be on free and reduced lunch.
West Pine Elementary will have a maximum capacity of 550 students. The plan would reduce the number of students at West End Elementary to about 460 students and Pinehurst Elementary to about 350.
Basically, the boundary divides Pinehurst by N.C. 211 and N.C. 5.
Students living in the Lake Pinehurst area, Clarendon Gardens, Village Acres, Pinewild and areas west of N.C. 5 and north of N.C. 211 would attend West Pine Elementary, while students living in Old Town, CCNC, Pinehurst No. 6, The Fairwoods on 7, the Monticello Road area and Jackson Hamlet would remain at Pinehurst Elementary.
Taylortown, Foxfire Village and Jackson Springs are included in the West Pine Elementary attendance district. Students attending Academy Heights Elementary, which is a year-round school, would not be affected.
Students living in West End, Seven Lakes and Eagle Springs will remain at West End Elementary.
There are two ideas for the boundaries for Crain's Creek Middle.
The first option simply combines the attendance districts for Cameron Elementary and Vass-Lakeview Elementary. Under this option, all the students who reach sixth grade and attend those two schools would be assigned to Crain's Creek Middle. Upchurch said this option follows the school system's history of using a clear feeder pattern.
Under this plan, total enrollment at Crain's Creek next fall would be 393 students - 46 rising sixth-graders from Cameron Elementary, 79 rising sixth-graders from Vass-Lakeview Elementary and 142 rising seventh-graders and 126 rising eighth-graders from New Century Middle. About 60 percent of those students would be on free and reduced lunch.
Total capacity at Crain's Creek Middle is 550 students. The opening of the new school will drop total attendance at New Century to about 500 students.
The second option is very similar, but feeds the western portion of the Cameron Elementary attendance district to New Century because it's closer to their homes than Crain's Creek. Next year, it would send 17 students from that area to New Century - three rising sixth-graders from Cameron Elementary, and 14 students in sixth and seventh grade already at New Century this year.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or by e-mail at tem firstname.lastname@example.org.
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