FIRST ON WWAY: School board halts redistricting talks

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Brunswick County School Board is hitting the brakes on redistricting some elementary schools.

The move comes after a second informational meeting with parents in as many days during which no one spoke in favor of the plan to move children Mallory Creek Plantation from Belville Elementary to Town Creek.

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School board members on the end siding with parents, unanimously voting to further study  student reassignment with staff and parents.

They said the district needs more time and information before redrawing lines.

“The board would like to thank the parents and community members for sharing their concerns and we understand the need for further study of the impact at the elementary, middle, and high schools,” Board Chairman Catherine Cooke said.  “We know that this is an inevitable change and want everyone to feel they have ample time and information on the ultimate decision that affects our community as a whole.”

Emily Donovan says her children spend more time at school than they do at home, so where they go to school and who they are with is very important.

“I believe all Leland schools are good schools,” Donovan said. “I will be happy to go to any school in the area that my kids eventually need to go to, but I would like to be a part of that discussion. I would like for there to be more transparency. I would like for there to be more public input.”

Donovan wants parents to have an active role in decisions made that could impact her children as northern Brunswick County grows.

“What are county commissioners doing?” Donovan said. “What are school board members doing to actually work with the developers of these planned homes and these planned communities to make sure that while these developments are going up that there’s enough adequate infrastructure that are all involved to maintain this growth?”

Some help could come from the state level. Representative Frank Iler says Brunswick County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state, but overcrowding can be solved with a host of solutions.

“They can bring in mobile units,” Iler said. “They can add classrooms. They can construct classrooms. We’ve got a bond issue which the house has passed almost unanimously that will provide $10 million to Brunswick County, but the Senate has not taken it up yet.”

On a personal level, Toni D’Anna says her daughter has struggled with adjusting at Belville Elementary School and moving to another school would be difficult.

“If I were to tell her that she would have to go to a new school next year, that would impact her emotionally [and] socially,” D’Anna said.

Donovan says the board’s decision to delay the redistricting is a relief.

“Moving forward, I’m hoping to see more lead time, more notice of meetings, more notice of intention and, actually, have more parents have a seat at the table and make this more of a collaborative effort,” Donovan said.

The school district said there are no plans for student reassignment for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year.  Board members will continue to work on developing district lines for Town Creek Middle School’s opening in August of 2020.