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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — An effort to control school overcrowding in New Hanover County may mean a loss of funding to the tune of more than $750,000.

The new lines that have been drawn to divide New Hanover County School districts have been the cause for a lot of controversy. Like the districts, the school board’s opinion is split.

“My conclusion is that yes, we have segregated our schools,” school board member Elizabeth Redenbaugh said.

Fellow board member Don Hayes disagrees.

“We have not segregated the school system,” Hayes said. “Yes, there’s a higher concentration of one race or the other in the schools, but that’s due to the housing patterns.”

This debate is the result of a new state law regarding disadvantaged students supplemental funding. The state has asked the school board to decide whether its policies were made to intentionally segregate. If the board’s answer is yes, New Hanover County Schools will lose more than $750,000.

School board members in favor of neighborhood schools supported redistricting to control overcrowding not to segregate, but Redenbaugh, who voted against the adopted redistricting plan, believes her fellow board members did not take into account some important factors.

“If you don’t take into account socioeconomic status, you can end up, putting the majority of the children in a school that come from a background of poverty, which makes it much more difficult on them. Their problems, they compound when they’re all under the same roof,” Redenbaugh said.

Hayes says those children are the ones who will suffer if the disadvantaged student funding is lost.

“I’m just very surprised and disappointed, because our schools have been doing so well, and the children have made so much progress, and now, they would want to jeopardize funding that we spend in these high-poverty schools,” Hayes said.

School board members must decide whether the concept of neighborhood schools has intentionally caused segregation. The school board will meet soon to discuss its response to the state. The state must receive the board’s response by October 20.

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