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Hundreds pack Union schools meeting; many oppose student moves

Observer Staff Reports

MONROE Hundreds of people packed Tuesday night’s Union County School Board meeting, where board members presented details of a redistricting plan that many parents oppose.

The redistricting proposal could affect thousands of the school system’s 41,100 students.

Board members say they are forced to move students because some of Union County’s newer and more popular schools are overcrowded. They say additional proposed residential development will worsen the situation.

During the meeting at the Walter Bickett Education Center, the board released details of new attendance zone lines. Those lines would move hundreds of students out of schools such as Kensington Elementary, Marvin Ridge Middle, Cuthbertson Middle and Cuthbertson High in southwest Union County; and Porter Ridge Middle in the northwest part of the county.

Some of the parents involved in the dispute said they moved to Union County to escape similar redistricting in recent years in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The Union County system has grown from about 25 schools in the late 1990s to 53 schools, and enrollment has nearly doubled.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, some parents said they opposed the redistricting because it would hurt their home property values by being moved into older schools with lower test scores. Other parents said some of the schools that would grow with the redistricting – such as Piedmont High and Parkwood High – are older buildings in need of renovation.

The McKibben Report compiled for the school system last year reported that enrollment in the county will grow 14.9 percent over the next 10 years, but growth in some high-demand areas will be much stronger. For example, the report predicted 64.6 percent growth in the next decade in the Kensington Elementary School area, near Waxhaw.

The school board said it will conduct additional meetings in coming weeks before it votes on the plan.

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