The Brunswick County Board of Education will soon choose from four options for new school zones that will rezone hundreds of elementary and middle school students, mainly in the northern part of the county.
Cropper GIS Consulting presented the final draft maps at the December 17 Board of Education Committee Meeting. The main goal of the redistricting is to create a zone for the new Town Creek Middle, which opens in fall 2020, and draw students out of the overcrowded Belville Elementary.
President of Cropper GIS Consulting Matthew Cropper recommended Option 1 to the board, explaining that it solved the objective but impacted the fewest amount of students. He also didn’t believe there to be a better map for transportation.
Cropper said he did have some “heartburn,” over Option 1 because it would be the longest distance for middle schoolers in Waterford and Magnolia Greens, who would be sent to Town Creek Middle rather than the nearby Leland Middle; however, the transportation department could leverage buses by filling them with both elementary and middle school students since the Town Creek schools are on the same campus.
Cropper explained that Option 2 would have been recommended since it also impacts the fewest amount of kids, but transportation would not operate as efficiently.
The other options
Between the second and third public information meetings there were some modifications to Options 2 and 3, and a fourth draft map was added.
“I think that all these maps are viable for the district,” Cropper told the board.
Depending on which map is approved, the number of elementary school students rezoned will be somewhere between 185 to 439, with Options 1 and 2 affecting the lowest amount. The middle school drafts impact between 325 to 340 students, with Option 4 moving the fewest.
Option 3 moves the most students of all the maps, and it also had the lowest approval ratings in a public survey.
“When you see options that have a greater amount of impact, you do see that being not as popular of an option,” Cropper said at the December 16 information meeting.
Options 2 and 3 were modified based on the public input to keep Waterford and Magnolia Greens in the same zone, as they are in the other options. The consultants also removed some communities from the Lincoln Elementary region to keep the school under 700 students.
Option 4 was created after the second information meeting as a result of the survey. This option would send Waterford and Magnolia Greens into Lincoln Elementary. However, it has the flaw of moving communities near Lincoln Elementary to Belville Elementary.
The new lines will inevitably impact South Brunswick Middle because Town Creek Middle was built inside of its zone.
Currently there is a boundary between Leland Middle’s zone and South Brunswick Middle’s zone, but Town Creek Middle’s district will fall in between.
Seventy-three students currently zoned for South Brunswick Middle, particularly those in the northern part of the region, will now attend Town Creek Middle instead. In Options 1 and 4 only, 12 students currently zoned for Leland Middle would go to South Brunswick Middle.
Options 1 and 4 would also make it so that 2% of the South Brunswick Middle students would move onto North Brunswick High. In Options 2 and 3, 100% of South Brunswick Middle students would graduate and go on to the neighboring South Brunswick High.
South Brunswick Middle is currently at 92.5% utilization but will lower to 85.2% if Options 1 or 4 are chosen, or 83.8% if Options 2 or 3 are approved.
None of the draft maps have an effect on Southport Elementary. In all four options, the elementary schools feed 100% into a middle school; all Southport Elementary and Bolivia Elementary students would move on to South Brunswick Middle.
The board members are expected to vote on the new boundary lines at a special meeting on January 14. Prior to that, there will be a public hearing on the maps at the Board of Education meeting on January 7.
Interactive maps and a second public survey are available online at www.bcswan.net/redistricting. The survey ends on January and the results will be relayed to the board before the vote.
Next summer, the consultants will start Phase 2 of the redistricting and study the rest of the county. They may recommend places to build new schools with accompanying redistricting scenarios. The public will begin seeing results from the study in fall 2020 and decisions made in the winter.