Union County school board approves student realignment

UNION COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Union County school board approved a realignment plan that will go into effect in the 2018-2019 school year. The vote Tuesday night will reassign about 4,400 students to different schools. The district says with all the grandfathering that will take place, it is unclear how many students will have to change schools.

The district says the purpose of the reassignment is to put students in schools closer to their homes and to make transportation run more efficient. The last time Union County Public Schools did student reassignments was about three years ago.

There was much outrage from parents. The goal back then was to address overcrowding. The district says some students who changed schools three years ago may end up back at the same school they left.

School board members say this time around the process was more transparent and had community buy-in. The community had eight months to review the proposed plan. School board members also made some suggestions to the reassignment plan.

Board members came up with 18 recommendations. The board voted on those recommendations one-by-one at Tuesday night's meeting. Parents told WBTV they were uncertain about the outcome prior to the vote.

"It's just really unsettling," Union County Public School parent Jennifer Cavanna said.

Cavanna lives in the Millbridge subdivision. She is concerned her neighborhood will be split. The district is looking at the 700-900 homes that haven't been built yet in Millbridge. The district says those future students won't be able to fit in the schools closest to the popular subdivision. Future students may have to attend different schools than their neighbors.

"We are one community. We want to stay as one community- so to split our kids sending one part of the community to one school and then sending another part of the community to another school takes away from the neighborhood school concept," Cavanna said.

The district says current Millbridge neighbors will not be impacted by this realignment. They will not have to worry about changing schools.

"I am not 100 percent confidant that's going to be the case and again who's to say these lines won't be drawn in another couple of years," Cavanna said.

School board members claim this realignment will be good and will last awhile.

"In my mind this is more about neighborhood schools and efficient use of our facilities. This is about sustainability. We will not have to revisit this hopefully in five years," Union County school board member Gary Sides said.

This plan also calls for grandfathering many students so they don't have to change schools. The proposed plan states if students don't want to move to their new schools, they can remain but they will have to provide their own transportation.

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