What was supposed to be a routine school board meeting in New Hanover County last night turned out to be quite eventful.
School redistricting has been a hot topic, but the board was not expected to make a move on the issue, especially since the public hearings are not finished yet.
There were three options on the table for school redistricting, but last night two were taken away. Option 4 is the school redistricting plan that maintains a neighborhood school philosophy. Based on the feedback at the two recent public forums, it is the most popular plan. Option 5 and 6 are diverse choices that would require more busing.
School board member Dorothy DeShields dropped a bombshell when she made a motion to drop option 6 as a choice. The motion passed 4 to 3. Board member Janice Cavenaugh then made a motion to drop option 5. It also passed 4 to 3. The no votes came from George Cox, Jeannette Nichols and Chairman Don Hayes.
DeShields said, "Those two options were the ones that dealt with moving a lot of kids around and that's obviously what parents don't want. What we want is for the parents to know that we're listening."
"I would not have voted for option 5 or 6 because I believe in neighborhood schools. I was the one that made that motion back in 2005, but you just don't change the rules in the middle of the game when we've already scheduled forums and people," said George Cox.
Essentially George Cox and the other two school board members voted “no” as a matter of principle, because another redistricting forum is scheduled for October 21, 2008.
Christina Shaw, a parent of a student at Holly Tree Elementary said, "Now we can get down to the tasks of revising option 4 and making as many parents as comfortable as possible, and hopefully get to the main task of fixing the schools that are suffering. I'm very pleased."
Even though option 4 is the only one left that does not mean it is the only option. Most people close to the situation believe a modification of option 4 will eventually be passed.