Cabarrus sets school zones
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Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009

Cabarrus sets school zones

Board of education decides on attendance boundaries for new schools, sticks to plan that parents opposed.

  • Parents can view maps of the reassignment plans at the Cabarrus County Schools Web site, www.cabarrus.k12.nc.us. Click on the headline "BOE approves redistricting boundaries," go to the bottom of the resulting page and click on the blue link to the map of the area you're interested in.

The Cabarrus County school board declined Monday to make major changes in the elementary school reassignment plans that some Harrisburg residents have opposed.

The board adopted several measures setting attendance boundaries for the new schools opening next year.

In a 5-2 vote, the board sent students who live south of Rocky River Road to the new Patriots Elementary School, which is off that road in the southern part of the county. Students who live north of the road will attend Harrisburg Elementary.

The Bradford Park and Cabarrus Woods neighborhoods are assigned to the new school. Several Bradford Park residents expressed opposition to that plan at a November public hearing.

Board member Andrea Palo, who with Carolyn Carpenter voted against the plan, said the board had received e-mails from parents concerned that their children would travel farther from home to school.

They also expressed frustration at being moved after spending time and effort on Harrisburg Elementary.

"It is difficult," Palo said. "A lot of people have invested a lot of hours."

The plan also expands the attendance zone of Boger Elementary to ease overcrowding at Odell Elementary. And it will pull students who live south of N.C. 49 in Concord from W.M. Irvin Elementary to the new replacement A.T. Allen Elementary at Abilene and Miami Church roads.

By a 4-3 vote, the board also adopted a reassignment plan for the new Hickory Ridge Middle School. Its boundaries will track those of Hickory Ridge High, except that students on the north side of N.C. 49, including Harrisburg's Rocky River Crossing subdivision, will attend J.N. Fries Middle in Concord.

Parents representing that neighborhood were upset about the plan at a public hearing Dec. 10. Cathy and Jeff Dover live in the subdivision, which is less than two miles from Hickory Ridge Middle.

"It was a big surprise," Cathy Dover said when she learned of the boundaries. "We live in Harrisburg. We work in Harrisburg. We shop in Harrisburg."

Board chair Wayne Williams predicted the matter would surface again, but not before the school opens.

"I understand parents in that area are frustrated," Williams. "We know we have to fix it.... Sometimes it takes a little patience."

The board tabled any decisions on boundaries for Harold Winkler Middle until spring, since construction delays have pushed the school's opening back to January 2011. The new school is beside Weddington Hills Elementary, off Weddington Road.

"There's still some problems there we need to look at," said Williams.

Parents in neighborhoods now zoned to Concord Middle but located closer to Harold Winkler Middle spoke at the Dec. 10 hearing. Robert Canaday, who lives in the Springdale neighborhood, said, "It's exactly a mile from my house to Weddington Hills Elementary," he said. Under the new plan, his children will "be bused 7 miles across town."

The board also approved a plan to move an area west of I-85 near Dale Earnhardt Boulevard to Concord from Northwest Cabarrus High. It also moved an area east of Rocky River and Lower Rocky River roads and north of Pine Grove Church Road from Hickory Ridge High to Central Cabarrus.

Lisa Thornton is a freelance writer.

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