The Union County school board discussed redistricting options Tuesday night but did not take another vote on the county’s offer to buy mobile classrooms to help with overcrowding.
The school board is considering Union’s first countywide redistricting plan, which would require about 5,800 of its 41,800 students – 14 percent – to change schools to deal with overcrowding.
Last week, the board rejected the $3 million offer from county commissioners for mobile classrooms. A number of the parents who packed the meeting room Tuesday had hoped that the board would reconsider the county offer.
When the meeting ended without a vote, some in the crowd yelled, “What about the $3 million” and “Shame on you.”
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Last week, school board members and county commissioners disagreed over the nature of the county’s offer and whether it came with conditions attached to it.
School board Chairman Richard Yercheck said the trailers would have helped with seating capacity issues but would not eliminate the need for some redistricting. And some schools’ populations would still need to be capped for safety reasons.
Three of the district’s 53 schools are at maximum capacity and have had their enrollment capped this school year.
“The trailers are not the panacea some people perceive it to be,” Yercheck said.
Commissioners Chairman Frank Aikmus attended the meeting and said he was “very disappointed in their lack of action.”
During the meeting, school staff discussed options that board members had wanted them to research.
That included reconfiguring some schools for different grade levels. The staff discussed cost and program changes needed for those changes.
Another idea was to possibly exempt from redistricting students who would be in fifth, eighth, 10th or 11th grade next year. That would cover about 2,400 students, and families would have to agree to provide their own transportation.
If all current students are exempted from redistricting, it would require more county funding for additional buses, staff said. And there also would be more schools that would come close to capping levels.
Rising high school seniors are already exempt from redistricting.
Also Tuesday, the school board set the date for two four-hour public hearings on the controversial redistricting plan.
The sessions will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at Monroe High School, and 6 p.m. Monday at Parkwood High School.
The board said it needs to make a final decision on redistricting by April.
School board member Sherry Hodges spoke out against the need for redistricting and was interrupted by applause from the crowd. “I think anxiety is high and trust is low” among the board’s stakeholders, she said.
Some parents worry that their kids might move to lower-performing schools or that property values could fall depending on what schools are associated with their neighborhood. Others are concerned about disrupting their children’s lives by a switch in schools.
In other action, Superintendent Mary Ellis said the district will add 11 minutes to the end of the school days for 60 days starting on the first Monday in March to make up for two snow days.