Redistricting idea causes ruckus at school board meeting

jalexander@newsobserver.comNovember 8, 2013 

— Proposals of spot redistricting in order to expand the dual-language program at Glenwood Elementary drew opposition from parents and supporters of Carrboro Elementary at Thursday night’s 4 1/2 hour school board meeting.

Glenwood Elementary is currently dealing with overcrowding because of the addition of another dual language track to the school. The dual language Mandarin program at Glenwood has brought 116 students to the school and there was a greater-than-expected growth from within the school’s attendance zone.

The school currently has 513 students but has a capacity of 423 students.

In order to remedy the situation, school officials are proposing that the board consider moving the Mandarin dual language program to a school that has a Spanish dual-language program. One option could be Carrboro Elementary’s Spanish dual language program. That could mean pushing the neighborhood students out of Carrboro.

Nearly 100 parents came out to Thursday’s meeting to support Carrboro Elementary and a few other schools, asking the board not to break up their school.

At one point, Chairwoman Michelle Brownstein had to ask parents, who were heckling school officials, to show respect.

Both English- and Spanish-speaking parents voiced their concern. One Spanish-speaking parent said the Latino community at Carrboro felt disrespected because they were not told by any school officials in Spanish of their proposed changes. English-speaking parents were upset because they did not find out until Monday. Others were concerned that their a second redistricting in two years would break up the community.

Board members agreed. Most recommended slowing down the Mandarin program, which the district has promised to expand.

“We cannot do something by 2014,” Brownstein told school officials. “Our communities will not support that, and I cannot support that.”

Parents seemed pleased with the board’s support and still remained united on the issue.

“I love my neighborhood school,” said Jenae Tharaldson, a parent of two at Carrboro Elementary. “It’s very upsetting and very disturbing to hear that the officials are considering redistricting. It makes no sense to do this crossover.

“We are completely against this.”

Very few Glenwood parents spoke. Those who did stated their support for expanding the program but said they did not want to disrupt Carrboro if they were not welcome. One woman said she would be open to her child attending Rashkis Elementary, a school also in the discussion.

Superintendent Tom Forcella and Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese told the crowd that Carrboro wouldn’t be the only school affected and that not everyone is going to be happy with the changes.

In an interview, LoFrese said a decision must be made before Feb. 1 when parents enroll their children in kindergarten.

“The meeting presented the complexities and difficulties we are going to face with all of this,” Lofrese said. “There are many options but not many good options. Everyone is struggling with the best approach of how to move forward.

“Every approach or option involves moving a significant number students,” he added.

Alexander: 919-932-2008

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