In Union County, a fresh start for 6,300 reassigned students

The concept of a fresh start to the school year will have special meaning Monday in Union County, where about one in seven students will be part of a massive reassignment program.

The Union County school district’s plan to move about 6,300 of the district’s 42,000 students – to deal with overcrowding, school officials said – was bitterly opposed by some parents but goes into effect this week.

Students, mostly in the fast-growing western part of the county, were moved to less-crowded schools farther east. Reassigned students were sent to Fairview Elementary, Parkwood Middle, Parkwood High, Piedmont Middle, Piedmont High and Sun Valley High.

The apparent final effort to block the plan, which was approved by the school board in a surprise vote in March, ended July 23 when Judge Lucy Inman rejected a lawsuit brought by parents to stop the reassignment.

Parents said they opposed the plan because they didn’t want their children’s lives upended by switching schools, and they were concerned about longer bus rides and schools with lower test scores.

Principals and PTAs at a number of schools said they made special efforts in recent weeks to make the new students and their parents feel welcome. Some of those took place at open houses last week.

Tahira Stalberte, chief communications officer for the school system, said bus drivers also are prepared. “They made dry runs this week,” Stalberte said Friday. “I was told that they went well.”

Not all of the reassigned students will be in new schools this week. The Union County school board approved a number of board transfers, but school system officials said they won’t have a final tally until early next month.