School Districts Outlined
BY JOHN KRAHNERT III
The Moore County Board of Education is weighing options for creating attendance districts for two new schools that will open next fall.
Deputy Superintendent Larry Upchurch presented attendance district proposals for Crain's Creek Middle School and West Pine Ele-mentary School to the board Thursday at its monthly meeting. The boundaries will not be finalized until March, and the board will hold a public hearing, though no date has been set.
Upchurch presented one option for West Pine Elementary and two options for Crain's Creek Middle.
"These things are not just easily done," he said, describing the process of getting a new school up and running. "There's much planning that has to go before the process, and there's much planning and rearranging during the process."
The attendance district proposal for West Pine Elementary pulls 315 students out of Pinehurst Elementary and about 114 students from West End Element-ary, 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.
Upchurch explained why only one option was provided for West Pine Elementary.
"In order to capture the students we need to be in the school; we don't know any other way to do this," he said. "That doesn't mean there aren't ways to tweak it, but this is our best effort to keep communities together but also get the numbers that we need."
Upchurch said, in simplistic terms, 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 would not be affected.
Students living in West End, Seven Lakes and Eagle Springs will remain at West End Elementary.
The board seemed supportive of Upchurch's proposal and recognized the inevitability of complaints from families over the new district.
"Unless I'm mistaken, the one thing that drove the community to support this bond was that they wanted schools that were not crowded," board member Sue Black said. "It appears that we may be able to do that, and that would be a good thing."
Board member Kathy Farren added, "I don't think anyone that lives in the West End area and the Pinehurst area thought they could vote for the bond and not have the chance of being redistricted. I think everybody went into it with an open mind - not that they'll be happy - but they went into it knowing that was a possibility."
The attendance district options for Crain's Creek Middle, on the other hand, are bit less complicated.
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.
The move would cut school bus ride times from two hours down to about 65 minutes for those students, Upchurch said.
"[Option 2] sends them to a middle school where their ride times would be drastically reduced from what they would be if we maintained a true feeder pattern," he said.
Preparations for Openings @body copy justified:Upchurch said the school system's transportation specialists spent "numerous hours" helping gather the necessary information to create the boundaries. He added that it's important for the school system to operates an "efficient transportation system."
The public hearing will be held on a separate date from the board's regular meeting, Superintendent Susan Purser said, so the board can provide "full focus" to the attendance boundary issue. It will be held at the school system's central office.
As far as staff, Anita Alpenfels, executive director of human resources, said the system has been working diligently to help employees become comfortable with the process. She said Purser has made visits to the three schools to be impacted by the openings to speak to staff.
"We want people to feel as comfortable as they can," she said.
On Monday, transfer request forms were provided to staff at those three schools to get the opportunity to request transfers first. Everyone else in the district will receive transfer requests as typical on Jan. 14.
The school system recently hired two principals to lead the new schools - Rose Cooper at Crain's Creek Middle and Seth Powers at West Pine Elementary. Cooper has been the principal at Carthage Elementary, while Powers was the principal at Highfalls Elementary.
"We're going to be working with these two new principals over the next several months in order to put all of the necessary pieces in place so that come this fall," Upchurch said, "in August, we'll be ready by the 25th to happily welcome all those new students to a new campus."
Information on the new schools will be available on the school system's Web site, www.ncmcs.org.
Before the meeting Thursday, school board members took a tour of Crain's Creek Middle, which is expected to be completed by March 1. It is located on Union Church Road, just outside Vass.
West Pine Elementary, which is adjacent to West Pine Middle, is expected to be ready to go this summer.
Contact John Krahnert III at (910) 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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