Does anyone else think that this particular redistricting initiative came out of nowhere and is moving like a freight train? According to the School Board's website, "The School Board completed its review of the current and projected student enrollment figures in December 2016." Since then there has been one community input meeting on January 26th, along with a few Town Hall/Neighborhood meetings with elected officials, mainly targeted at specific neighborhoods. Redistricting options were devised at a work session on February 16th and have not officially been released to the public for review. (We were at the meeting and have released the options, to see what they are click here.) The public hearing where the SB will take comments from the public is on March 1st and the SB vote is on March 14. Seems awfully quick for what BTW would call a non-emergency situation.
Why non-emergency? Well, using SCPS' own student enrollment projections, right now CFHS has 2152 students. The capacity of the school is 2175 so that means this year CFHS is functioning at almost 99% capacity. That's high and certainly needs to be addressed, especially when other high school's current enrollment numbers are so low in comparison.
Looking to next year, the projection for CFHS attendance is 2206, with a capacity of 2175. That is 54 more students enrolled than this year and 31 over capacity, leaving the schools capacity number at 101%. Projections for the next school year, 2018-19, really start to go off the rails at 2263 projected enrolled students and CFHS functioning at 104% capacity. Things just go downhill from there.
Those extra 31 students would make life more complicated for Forge's admins and teachers next year, no doubt about it. That's basically one entire classroom of students although it's likely those children would be spread out over different grades. Taking advantage of every available space would be necessary and it would be a challenge. But is it a surmountable one, at least for a one year period of time and if so, should that option be considered?
Regardless of how you define "emergency" in this context, a three month turn around from acquiring student enrollment data to School Board vote seems rather rushed. Robin Hawkins, a resident of Autumn Ridge, is quoted in a Free Lance Star article here as saying “I feel the decision is being rushed and the entire county is not being taken into consideration. This will be a temporary fix with this debate coming back to haunt the community again in a few years if this continues to be a ‘rush job.’ ”We echo Ms. Hawkins sentiments and agree that NO one wants to revisit high school redistricting before the opening of HS6.
Another element the School Board may not be acknowledging is their terrible timing. Students at the high school level have already turned in their course selections for the next school year, a rather difficult thing to do when you don't know which school you will be attending. Current 8th grade students are in the process of trying to choose which signature programs they would like to enroll in. Students who don't want to travel during the day and choose a program accordingly, might find themselves traveling anyway if redistricted.
At the Rock Hill town hall meeting at RTMS last week, more than one parent expressed the desire to remain "overcrowded", at least in the short term. When Board Rep. Decatur commented during the work session that maybe we shouldn't be redistricting right now, the crowd in the viewing room let out a round of cheers and applause. Surely the board heard the crowd reaction, they were right next door with the door wide open. So is it possible to basically do nothing, at least for now? Should that be the School Board's Option 8?
It is possible that with enough feedback from the community that the School Board will table the CFHS redistricting with the intention of making a decision for the 2018-19 school year. That way, they could shift their focus to the elementary school redistricting coming up in March and allow themselves plenty of time to figure out the best way to deal with the Forge overcrowding issue. If you think Option 8: Do Nothing is the best plan, please don't assume it can't happen. Take the time to contact your School Board Representatives, contact all of them, and let them know you think they are rushing to judgement. Find contact information for your reps HERE.
What do you think, should the School Board delay?