It was a full house at Eaton Elementary School Monday night. Passionate parents gathered for the second public meeting about redistricting New Hanover County next year. There was overwhelming support for keeping year-round schools in place. The majority of the parents at Monday night’s meeting choose to send their children to one of New Hanover County's two year-round elementary schools, Eaton and Coddington. "We need more year-round, we need more year-round schools," said Michelle Marks. They are concerned that in the process of redistricting the county, their schools will adopt a traditional calendar. Supporters lined up one-by-one with reasons to stay year-round, such as the schools bring structure and consistency. Many of the other parents, like Petra Tyndall, have children at traditional schools and are concerned they will be moved farther away from where they live. "I just want my voice to be heard with everyone else in our neighborhood. Keep us in our neighborhood; don't bus us 11 miles away from home." Mary Kenworthy, another parent who attended the meeting, said, "We fought hard to have a good education, not that any of the other schools are bad, we just don't want to go as far, it's not our neighborhood school. It's going to mean a lot of changes for our children that we don't think we need to have take place." Some parents are concerned redistricting will happen again and again if there is not a long-term solution put in place. After all, the county was redistricted just three years ago. "I understand that there are some schools that are struggling within the district, but I really think that the problem is actually fixing the schools," stated concerned parent, Jodi Bernard. There are three redistricting maps to consider right now. One focuses mostly on sending kids to school close to home. The other two focus on diversifying the schools by way of busing. This option is something not many of these parents want to see. School Board Chair, Don Hayes, said the board has not considered eliminating the year-round school calendar. He calls it a fine program with a waiting list. Hayes also said the board will not even discuss any options until all of the public meetings have been held. The third and final forum is October 21, 2008 at Freeman Elementary School.
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