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Redistricting of students is on the horizon

POSTED: September 22, 2013 8:00 a.m.
 

The county school system has started working on a redistricting plan that would shuffle elementary and middle school students around in the south end of the county for the next school year.

We’ve been down this road many times before, and there always seem to be a few extra curves and unexpected speed bumps before arriving safely at the right destination.

Just the mention of student relocations is enough to give rise to vocal protest from some who inevitably feel their youngsters, subdivision, neighborhood or community — take your pick h— are being singled out for negative treatment by the school system.

And it usually isn’t that way at all.

It is inevitable in a county that has constant population growth that schools will not always be able to handle the resulting increases in numbers of students.

Too many  parents with the “don’t move my student” mentality fail to consider the realities of school facilities with finite spaces challenged by student population counts that constantly increase.

Even if the school system could dictate where each new family moving to the county had to live, it still couldn’t avoid the necessity of shifting students around from school to school on occasion.

Unless taxpayers are willing to finance schools built with copious amounts of empty space to handle future growth, facilities eventually are going to become overcrowded as newcomers register for class.

In working on the current plan, school administrators say they have as a goal making sure that students will ultimately be going to the same high school as they would have if not relocated.

There’s no denying it can be a stressful process for school officials, parents and students alike, though in truth students that age tend to be a resilient bunch and adjust to new surroundings pretty quickly.

With that in mind, the best thing is for all of those involved in this year’s redistricting process to take a deep breath, be patient, and try to look beyond neighborhood names and local street corners and see the big picture.

Online comments on the redistricting plan currently under consideration are being accepted until Sept. 27 in the first phase of a process expected to continue until completion of a final redistricting plan Nov. 21. Let your opinion be known.

But as you do so, take into consideration this caveat: included in the proposal are student shifts that affect three middle schools. Even if the plan is enacted as presented in the current draft, all three of those middle schools will still be over capacity to some extent. That’s the reality school officials have to juggle as they weigh the need for classrooms against the growth in student numbers and the challenges of economic conditions.

 

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