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Brunswick County Schools hires redistricting consultant, new school lines coming December 2019

Work continues on Town Creek Middle School, next to Town Creek Elementary School, in Winnabow. A school reassignment decision to accommodate the new middle school could be finalized as early as December. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Brunswick County Schools)
Work continues on Town Creek Middle School, next to Town Creek Elementary School, in Winnabow. A school reassignment decision to accommodate the new middle school could be finalized as early as December. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Brunswick County Schools)

Update: Brunswick County Schools spokesperson provided additional comment to clarify that new northern elementary lines — not just middle — will be studied during phase one this fall. Also, the finalized October information session date is now included.

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — The Brunswick County School Board has hired consultant, Cropper GIS to coordinate its planned two-phase redistricting process.

New district-wide middle school and northern elementary school reassignments and will be finalized by the consultant in December 2019, according to a new timeline approved by Brunswick County Schools Operations Committee Tuesday.

Related: ‘A new school may be needed’: Three years after $152 million bond, Brunswick Schools enrollment swelling

This means new middle school districts for all county students and northern elementary students could be approved and in effect by the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. High school assignments will not be addressed in phase one, a BCS spokesperson confirmed.

However, Brunswick County Schools (BCS) is not 100% certain on what exact school assignments Cropper GIS will come up with come October. “The most important thing I think, I hope people understand is we’re not directing these people’s work,” Sue Rutledge, BCS Chief Operating Officer, said Thursday.

“That’s what we’re paying them for. We’re giving information. We’ll see what we get.”

Making room for TCM

These assignments are necessary to make room for the district’s newest addition, Town Creek Middle School, set to open in 2020. Town Creek Middle School is being constructed adjacent to Town Creek Elementary School, which just opened up a new a six classroom-addition at the beginning of this school year.

The first public information session on middle school and northern region reassignments will be held at North Brunswick High School on October 22 at 6 p.m.

A second session will be held on an as-of-yet unannounced date in November. Cropper GIS’ final draft reassignment options will be presented to the school board in December, with the option for the BCS Board to adopt the consultant’s recommendations.

Cropper GIS’ services include the ability to accept public comment online — a helpful feature for working families who may be unable to attend public information sessions. Now under a $70,000 contract with BCS, Cropper GIS is also working as a consultant with New Hanover County Schools as its redistricting process moves ahead.

Once middle and northern school reassignments are in, BCS will move on to a district-wide study. This study will review whether a new school is needed. It could also produce new assignments for all BCS students. Final draft recommendations on new assignments for all BCS students are scheduled to be delivered on January 2021, predicated by public information sessions in October and December 2020.

“10-year demographic projections look at when we need a new school. If we need a new school or have a new school, where should it be?” Rutledge said at the Operations Committee meeting Tuesday according to video shared to the parent-organized Leland Public Schools Facebook page.

How we got here

Between 2017 and 2018, Brunswick County was the fastest-growing region in the state, according to census data. A hub for retirees, growth has not hit the school system as hard as possible. However, young families and children are populating northern end of the county.

As of June, Belville Elementary was 45 percent over BCS’ elementary capacity parameter of 600 students. A demographic study released in January 2019 projected Lincoln Elementary in Leland would exceed capacity this year. Lincoln Elementary added six new classrooms this year, included in the 2016 voter-approved $159 million bond package.

Outside the northern end of the county, according to the study, Union Elementary in Shallotte is at capacity as of this school year; Waccamaw School (K-8) in Ash is near capacity; BCS’ six remaining elementary schools are under capacity.

In March, the Operations Committee opened the discussion on the potential to redraw middle and elementary school lines. Though the board tentatively projected new assignments could go into effect for the current academic year (less than five months notice for families), it conceded to parent and community concerns about the rushed process.

The board’s decision to hire a consultant is an effort to slow down and make right on its misstep this spring.

Under BCS’ redistricting plan, overcrowding relief for Belville Elementary (which added two new modular units in August) could potentially arrive as early as next academic year, granted the board adopts final recommendations in phase one. Cropper GIS’ anticipated schedule is shorter than when the board first anticipated the second phase of reassignments could be finalized.

Plan ahead

When dates are finalized, Port City Daily will update the below timeline. Brunswick County Schools also plans to provide updated information on its new redistricting page.

Phase 1

  • Information session #1: October 22, 2019 (Finalized)
  • Information session #2: November 2019
  • School board reviews final draft options: December 2019

Note: Specific dates shown in below Brunswick County Schools graph do not apply — the actual dates are still being finalized.

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