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Board finalizes redistricting

By Susan Dickson
Staff Writer

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education voted 4-2 last week to approve a plan that would move students from the neighborhood north of Weaver Dairy Road from Morris Grove Elementary School to Estes Hills Elementary School.

Emotions ran high at the board meeting, where Spanish-speaking families from both neighborhoods up for consideration for redistricting pleaded with board members to remain at Morris Grove. Parents and children spoke at the meeting, some fighting through tears as they made their requests.

The board voted to move 30 students from the neighborhood north of Weaver Dairy, between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Sunrise Road, known as Segment 92, to Estes Hills, rather than students from Segments 40 and 41, which include 52 students from neighborhoods south of Dairyland Road and west of Laurel Springs Drive. Students from Segments 40 and 41 were up for consideration to be moved to McDougle Elementary School.

The decision completed the redistricting process the board started late last year in order to ease overcrowding at Morris Grove, which opened in 2008 and has experienced high growth in the past few years. In February, the board voted to reassign 33 students from Morris Grove to other district elementary schools, but kept students from Segment 92 at the school, citing concerns that the segment had been moved multiple times in recent years.

The move will send Segment 92 to its fourth school since 2003. The neighborhood was sent to Seawell Elementary School when it opened in 1999, and remained there until 2003, when it was redistricted to Ephesus. Segment 92 was moved to Morris Grove when it opened in 2008, and will start the 2011-12 school year at Estes Hills.

Board members Jean Hamilton and Shel Brownstein voted against the proposal, saying they would prefer to move Segments 40 and 41.

“To me the factor that weighs toward keeping 92 at Morris Grove is that Estes Hills is a school that has as their world language French and McDougle has Spanish,” Hamilton said. “I think that schools [having] Spanish for world language does lead to more support for Spanish-speaking families in our district.”

Brownstein said she could not vote to move Segment 92 because it had been moved several times in the last few years and because there were more non-proficient students in that segment than in Segments 40 and 41. Segment 92 has six non-proficient students that will be moved, compared with two in Segments 40 and 41.

“This is not an easy decision and it’s not that there is an exact right answer,” she said.

Board Chair Jamezetta Bedford pointed to recent data showing that Latino subgroups performed better at Estes Hills than at McDougle, acknowledging that it was only one year’s worth of data.

“Moving Segment 92 moves the fewest students. It disrupts the least number of families,” Bedford said, adding that she supported that move because it helped balance socioeconomic status between elementary schools.

Rising fifth-graders from Segment 92 will be offered the option to remain at Morris Grove, but transportation will not be provided for them.

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