The Cabarrus County Board of Education voted 6-1 Monday for to approve a plan that calls for full-scale, systemwide redistricting of students for the 2011-12 school year.
What began Monday with discussion of a proposal to balance student enrollment between two high schools ended with the approval of a substitute plan, introduced by vice chairperson Cindy Fertenbaugh, to balance enrollment among all schools in the system.
The original proposal before the board, to shift about 100 students in 11 neighborhoods from Jay M. Robinson High School to Northwest Cabarrus High, had drawn opposition from affected families.
"I feel like we were singled out and picked on," said John Barbee, whose children would have changed schools under the original proposal. At a public hearing May 3, opponents asked the board to stop reassigning small groups and begin re-examining attendance areas of feeder schools instead.
"I will give Ms. Fertenbaugh credit for obviously listening," said Barbee. "She did what she thought was best."
The school system has reassigned groups of students continually over the past several years, as the fluctuating economy changed growth patterns in the county.
Under the new plan, the entire system will be evaluated, and feeder school's attendance areas may be redrawn. The plan also calls for postponing of the original plan to reassign students from Robinson to Northwest Cabarrus.
Fertenbaugh tried to satisfy proponents of the original plan, who were concerned low enrollment at Northwest Cabarrus would reduce the number of higher-level classes the school could offer. A second part of the substitute plan asked the superintendent to keep staff and class availability consistent from this year to next.
"I was looking for a win-win situation," Fertenbaugh said. "I wanted everyone to feel comfortable with the decision."
Board chairman Wayne Williams, who voted against the substitute plan, said redistricting the entire system before the 2011-12 school year will be a massive and largely unnecessary task.
"There are little pockets of students here and yonder that need to be looked at," he said. "Those are the kinds of things people need to address, instead of full-scale redistricting."
Williams said a committee would be formed to help establish stable feeder areas and provide procedures and guidelines for future boards to use when faced with the need to move students. "Rule No. 1 will be, 'You do not redistrict three months before the school year begins,'" he said.
How many schools the new plan will affect is not yet known. "It's a very long process," Fertenbaugh said. "I expect there to be some phasing to it.
"No school is immune, but it may come out that 70percent of the schools aren't touched."
The board's next work session will be June 7.