Two new schools are expected to open in New Hanover County by the next school year. With new schools comes the possibility of new lines being drawn to redistrict the county. Redistricting the schools will help decide who attends a new elementary school and middle school. The big issues are what children will it affect, and will parents welcome the change? Some of the parents who do not like the idea have students at Holly Tree Elementary. Their children have a three-minute bike ride from home. They say redistricting may change their bike ride into a twenty-minute bus ride across town. “It was part of our choice and so to realize now that that might not be the case, that was a red flag for us,” said Christina Shaw. Three redistricting maps show a neighborhood option, where students would go to a school close to home; an economic diversity option to address the population of students on free and reduced lunch; and a compromise map that does a little of both. Some parents say with the economic diversity map, their children might end up at a school struggling to perform on exams on the other side of town. "There is a sense of community around that. That's one of the reasons why we wanted to have a neighborhood school,” Shaw said. Kelly Corcoran, another concerned parent said, "What I have a problem with is putting my children on a bus for twenty-five minutes one way to school everyday in a below average school." School Board Chair Don Hayes said this is the kind of concerns raised every time the district builds a new school. "I know the parents want their children close to home. It's not something we like to do, I can assure of that but when you build a new school it becomes necessary,” stated Hayes. Hayes said overcrowded schools and budget constraints to build more, is the reason behind redistricting. He just hopes they can find a solution all parents will agree on. "If you can keep a child close to home as possible and relieve the overcrowding, then that's really all you can do,” added Hayes. Christina Shaw has gone so far as to develop a website dedicated to keeping students in their neighborhood schools. She has an online petition with almost 400 parents who do not want to see redistricting happen. Tonight, parents on both sides will have a chance to voice their concerns to the school board. The public forum is at Coddington Elementary at 6:30 p.m. You can visit Christina Shaw's website at www.neighborhoodschoolsfornhc.com. To visit New Hanover County Schools website go to www.nhcs.net.
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