FORT MILL The Fort Mill School Board will hear from Superintendent Chuck Epps Tuesday night as he gives his recommendations for elementary school reassignment.
Board members expect there to be “tweaks” made to the plan, School Board Chairman Patrick White said, but there will likely be only “minor adjustments” made from the proposal presented Oct. 8.
“When you have as small a geographic area as we do and 10 elementary schools, there aren’t many ways you can draw and redraw it,” White said.
Epps is making his recommendations to the board based on feedback received since the Oct. 8 meeting, when consultant Dale Holden presented a proposal for elementary school reassignment. The school board will consider Epps’ recommendation, allow more time for feedback from the public, and make a final decision on Nov. 5.
So far, approximately 400 people have provided feedback to the district regarding the reassignment plan, officials said. The majority of concerns about the plan appear to be coming from two areas, according to White and other board members: the Springfield community and Riverview Elementary.
Under the current proposal, Riverview will go from 44 percent of its student population receiving free and reduced lunch to 51 percent, while nearby Orchard Park, in the more affluent Baxter community, will drop to under 6 percent free and reduced lunch.
At a community meeting Thursday, parents suggested providing additional assistance to the schools with higher rates of free and reduced lunch, or changing the proposal so that it doesn’t create a disparity among the schools.
Board member Wayne Bouldin said the increase in free and reduced lunch at Riverview isn’t “a huge difference,” but it is “a big gap there from the other schools.”
“We definitely as a district put weight on that. That alone is not a good measure of what the population is at the school and how it functions but it does concern us,” Bouldin said.
Board member Scott Patterson said the numbers did not give him any cause for concern but, “we’ll wait and see what Dr. Epps brings to us Tuesday night.”
“I would have no problem with any of my children going to any of these schools myself,” he added.
Springfield residents have created a petition to argue against the proposed move from Springfield Elementary to Fort Mill Elementary School, which is down the block on Springfield Parkway. Several residents complained that making a left-hand turn out of the Springfield neighborhood toward Fort Mill Elementary School will be difficult during rush hour.
Some petitioners cite building their homes in the Springfield neighborhood specifically because they wanted their child to attend Springfield Elementary and now don’t want to attend Fort Mill Elementary.
Patterson said he feels like the proposed plan was a good one, but that “we’re never going to make everyone happy. It’s always a tough one. And they are advocating for their kids, but we have to make the best decision for the entire elementary school population.”
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