Redistricting vote tonight

For someone without kids in the school system (although I hope to someday), I try to follow local school issues. But there's just so much detail! I understand that there are four proposals for elementary redistricting accompanying the opening of elementary school #10 in the CH-C system, and that the superintendent has endorsed one.

In making the decisions, the board's agenda calls for members to consider contiguity, travel and stability, among other criteria.

In Pedersen's selected proposal, elementary school enrollment across the district would range from 406 to 596. Elementary school No. 10 would enroll 481 students.

[School board member Jean] Hamilton acknowledged that the redistricting will not come without negative effects.

"Many students will have to change schools," she said. "Not some - many."
- Board to decide redistricting - Daily Tar Heel, 4/12/07

The schools have posted maps and spreadsheets here: But I still haven't seen any descriptive comparison of the impact of the each proposal. Can anyone help?

Scenario 2LL

enlarge: PDF • GIF
Scenario 3

enlarge: PDF • GIF
Scenario 9

enlarge: PDF • GIF

Scenario 27

enlarge: PDF • GIF



Since I have to no way to comprehend the overall impact of each proposal, I tend to look at where kids in my own neighborhood would go. We are in "segment" 134 and currently attend Glenwood, 2-3 miles away. Under scenario LL, we would stay there. Scenarios 3 and 9 would send us over a mile north to Seawell. Scenario 27 has us going to Carrboro elementary which is just about a mile away. Carrboro is the only school I could even consider walking to, so that is far and away my favorite.

My old neighborhood, segment 144, is going to Rashkis (about 3 miles away) under all 4 scenarios!

But I really want to make my decision based on how this affects other families in the district, especially those with less free time than I have to go traipsing off to school. Without any useful big picture analysis, it seems we are left to advocate only for our own selfish desires.

My local take.

The one thing I notice is that "151, 156, and 159" are platted to NOT be in Scroggs in most of these plans. These are the areas adjacent to Southern Village or where the High School will be built, and it seems many of these kids could walk (Walking School Bus perhaps) to Scroggs.

Then again, I am assuming the purple is FPG, which means they can still walk down Smith Level Road I guess. Or, through the new trail that will start at Culbreth and lead to the school.

{shrugs} I don't have kids in public schools yet and when I do they'll go to Scroggs.

None of these plans would affect my family since we're just a few blogs from Scroggs, but I don't envy the people coming up with this plan. I'm sure its quite difficult to come up with a redistricting plan. Not knowing anything about it I imagine you first take students from the surrounding areas, enough to fill the new school. But whoops, now the surrounding school districts have too few kids, so now you've got to equalize enrollment by moving kids into the understrength districts, so there's a ripple effect throughout the school system.

Does anyone have an idea how this is all calculated? This type of thing would be a great software project, where you could create a set of rules and priorities, and then compare the results of shifting priorities.

For example, how would the maps change if balancing school populations according to family income was a higher priority than proximity?

The approach to redistricting is complicated, trying to ballance a number of factors. At one point the district had this information available, I didn't locate it on the website.

For someone planning on having children in the near future, I would suggest looking into the First School discussion. Integrating pre-K (ages 3 and 4) into an elementary school represents great opportunities and additional responsibilities. FPG and the district will benefit from your interest in and opinions of the proposed program.

BTW, the meeting will be at Lincoln Center and not CH Town Hall as usual.

Good bet there is at least one software product that does the redistricting math based on the user's rules and priorities.

"Good bet there is at least one software product that does the redistricting math based on the user's rules and priorities."

Especially since the same technology is also useful for gerrymandering voting districts :-)

We've got a Map and a story on our front page today.
At the end of the story is a list of the neighborhoods that would move.



The technology to answer the questions above would be Geographic Information Systems software (or GIS). There used to be a freeware product from ESRI called ArcExplorer that can show spatial data, and do very limited types of analysis.

You'd need access to the data that the school system has, or you could use 7-year-old Census data as a proxy, though that would probably be quite inadequate for this task.

Here's something I've never understood- why is the CH/C schools district bigger than the boundaries of the towns? Has this always been the case? Are the CH/C school district areas outside of the CH/C municipal boundaries all within the ETJ of the towns, land eventually to be annexed? How are the boundaries of the school system determined?

Thank you Kirk, this information is helpful.

From the Carrboro Citizen:

...the recommended plan, labeled plan 9D, attempts to balance criteria including school capacity, student proficiency, the number of students receiving free and reduced lunch and socio-economic status... Plan 3F best supports the dual-language program... Plan 2LL attempts to move the fewest students, and plan 27 attempts to protect the dual-language program while leaving room for growth at the new elementary school.

Redistricting for the schools is indeed a complex process. At this late stage in the process, I don't think I could do justice to explain the process in a single posting. The best way to understand it is to attend the first 2 hr meeting of the Redistricting Committee when the next redistricting is necessary.

The board's agenda item is here:
There is a comparison of some characteristics of the different plans. You can also look for the agenda item on this topic from the prior board meeting that had additional information.

A number of technological approaches were used. This was a significant improvement over the past elementary redistricting in 2003.
1. Ruth Heaton, a redistricting committee member, was hired by the district to help with GIS type analyses. She provided a number of services including mapping plans.
2. The district hired OrEd at NCSU to prepare the Excel spreadsheet templates. They were asked to come up with an optimal assignment plan based on a number of principles. I am told they gave up by which I infer they were not able to do so within the budget they were working under.
3. Jim Smith, a parent of middle school students and professor in Duke's business school, and I worked on optimization models. The models work great for the parameters modeled but we ran out of time before finishing a model that had all the parameters needed. Specifically, contiguity was difficult to model completely.

I would also note that no amount of software can replace the broad knowledge of neighborhoods and transportation that was present in the collective brains of the committee members. In addition, the public provided much input that was also considered in adjusting the various plans. That said, I agree that a next generation software approach would make the committee's job easier.

Patrick asked about the relationship between the CH/C
school district and the town boundaries. The simple answer is
that there is no relationhip. In NC, schools are a county
function. Here in Orange, we have two school systems, both
funded by the county, and though one of them has an
urban name, and though we sometimes refer to them loosely
as the "city" system and the "county" system, they
are both funded by the county and each is governed by its
own board and administration. Their district lines have nothing
to do with the town boudaries. I'm not sure how or when
the district lines were established.

Usually, the only time that the towns get involved is when one of
the school systems wants to build a new school. Then,
like any developer, the school system must apply to the appropriate local government for permits.

I believe Rev. John Manly of First Baptist Church was one of Orange County's first African-American elected officials of the 20th century when he was elected to the School Board int he 1950's. So we have had a City School Board for at least 50 years.

And as long as I have broached the off-topic matter of early African-American elected officials in our county, I'll just mention that the first in the 20th century was Hubert Robinson, the personal driver of Frank Porter Graham. Robinson was elected to (what was then known as) the Chapel Hill Board of Aldermen in 1955 or so. An African-American candidate had run for the School Board in 1953 and lost, although I can't remember now who that was. There were also at least three African-Americans on the Chapel Hill Board in the 19th century: Wilson Caldwell in the 1880's, Thomas Kirby about 1870 and Green Brewer also about 1870. Kirby and Brewer were part of the so-called "black and tan" Republican Party of the reconstruction era - a biracial coalition government; I don't know what Caldwell's party affiliation was. Between 1898-1900, NC Democrats instituted poll taxes, literacy tests and other anti-democratic tools to keep African Americans away from the polls. It took until the 1950's for NC to even begin to recover from this injustice.

Wow. According to the Daily Tar Heel:

There were tears, raised tones and a life-sized lion at the standing-room-only Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board meeting Thursday, but the board left without a decision on a redistricting plan for the district.
"We're here tonight to ask you to stop treating little FPG like the district's pack mule," said parent and PTA Co-president Bridgitte Araba, flanked by the other FPG parents, who stood each time a representative spoke to the board.

"We are tired of bearing the burden of the rest of the district."

Another main concern of attendees was the renewal of Carrboro's dual-language program, which many said is proving invaluable to their children.

...the board spent two hours on the redistricting item scheduled to take 20 minutes on the agenda.

After member Liz Carter condemned a "white flight" to the system's richer schools, member Mike Kelley said her comments on an "elitist" district were "just inappropriate."

Member Annetta Streater also shared concerns on the division of the district's population.

"We may be setting up urban and suburban schools," she said. "And that basically means schools for minority students and schools for majority students."

Can anyone explain what is "inappropriate" about raising concerns about elitism? It's been an issue in our school system for decades. It needs to be discussed!

Good question - why is raising the term "inappropriate” about concerns about elitism. Let's me more specific... how concerns about racism.

The CHCCS are (with the middle school with their "see only a few students were moved" plan) creating schools that divided by minority and white.

Tragically, the number of African American families in our schools drops year after year. Just as the number of African American students in Physics classes drop year after year. Everyone looks at the "end of the course" tests results and says "see we are closing the gap". Now, look at non-weighted GPA, number of AA students entering college, and number of AA students taking advanced courses. Those result show and ever widdening gap. Oh, you think we doing better by African American students. Well. keep reading those CHCCS color glossy brochures... they do a great job of throwing a cover over a ever-widening sore.

Mike Kelley came into the poltical scene because he did not care if our school had balanced population. He didn't want his child and his neighbor child moved. Forget the larger community or that everyone is entitle to be at the table.

Mike Kelley stated in a Glen Singleton workshop that he did see any discrimination happening to African Americans.

While we talk about the outcome of Imus's remarks, maybe Chapel Hill residents will look at what is happening in our community. We might want to look at what our AA students must face day after day after day.

So... I'll call it...... Chapel Hill Carrboro has become and is still becoming a community of and for the "rich, white, and male" individual . And noone is going to dare take that privledge.

Now, Mike Kelley is driving the redistricting plans to ever support that community concept.

I can hope that some of the other individuals on the board might work up the courage to create a balance in our schools rather than running for but another higher office.

No doubt FPG gets treated like the runt of the litter. A loyal parent base loves the diversity, puts up with a school in desperate need of a makeover and have watched as FPG (and only FPG in the CH/Carrboro system) failed to meet state testing standards. All we ask for is a little equality, not a lot. The 2 measuring sticks - free/reduced lunch and SES scores- for equality are the lowest in the district, except for Carrboro which has the dual language program which effects the level of equity there. What happens next? We lose our burdened teachers to schools that have better test scores so they are bonused more. White flight - absolutley. It's already happened. You can already hear soccer moms whispering, "anywhere but FPG."

I think Gloria meant he "...did NOT see any discrimination happening to African Americans." Right?

As a fellow reporter who was at the board meeting Thursday (yes, even through all two hours of public comment), I feel that the DTH article's description of the elitism argument is a tad misleading.

Mike Kelley's use of the term "inappropriate" was actually in specific reference to Liz Carter's condemnation of LEAP (academically-gifted classes) as "elitist." He was defending LEAP alone and making no comment about the district as a whole, though Ullrich's article in the DTH does not make that clear. Instead, Kelley comes off in the article looking like he tried to squelch discussion of race and class issues, dismissing them as taboo topics. I think that's unfair to Kelley.

I checked my tapes and transcribed a few snatches of the actual dialogue.

Liz Carter said:

We are no better than the rest of the world except to ourselves...We already have one elitist program: it's called the LEAP program. And we have persons running to that.

To which Mike Kelley replied:

I'm not sure what is meant by that term 'elitist,' but it is frequently used as a code word, and a code word is not very flattering. I think that is a gross misperception and an insult to the parents who have children in that program. Those parents and children are not unlike any other child or any other parent in this district, in that they want what is an appropriate and valid educational program for their child...To say that they are elitist I think is just inappropriate.

See how his reply to Carter takes on a different meaning from the way the article portrayed it?

Dear jyhill

I appreciate your desire for fairness to dear Mr. Kelley and the fact that you are investigative reporter.

It might be helpful as a investigative reporter for you to:

Clarify how many AA students (relative to percentage of other students) are in the LEAP program.
Clarify how the LEAP program has served "all" students over the past three years.
Clarify how many white sappeal (multiple times) to insure that their student are enrolled in the LEAP program or other AG programs in the district. and how many of their appeals suceeded versus AA parent's appeals.
Clarify if AA students have increased their participation or decrease their participation in LEAP and other AG program over the last several years.
Clarify how many white students (who have the financial resources to hire private "expensive" tutors to insure their enrollment in LEAP, AG, and AP courses. Or even their sucess in AP or Honor students.
Clarify what happens to white students who feel performance pressure - why do we have a high percentage of substance abuse (relative to our population), high percentage of use of anti-depressents, percentage of college dropout from burn out.

I know that answer to these questions. But, maybe you should. Maybe it is your job as a member of the media.

I will state that Ms. Carter probably understand the real workings of the system with forceful "my child is AG too" parents (even when their children do not qualify) than what you have experienced/saw in one board meeting.

The fact remains that Mr.Kelley did make the statement in a Glen Singleton workshop that he never saw any African American experience discrimation. He made that statement three years ago. We can hope that he has learned to greet, meet, and get to know more diverse group of folks in that period. I hope at least that he watched the IMUS interaction. Watched as young high achieving women were targeted for their race only.

The fact remains that Mr.Kelley saw no reason to have balanced schools five years. Balanced by economic, race and student schools. He only wanted his child not to be moved. Now looked at the criteria we are using for redistricting.

The fact remains that teachers teaching in our school system can't afford to live here.

The fact remains that AA families are leaving our community because of the sense of disconnection that they feel.

The fact remains that what is happening in CHCCS is not new. It has happened repeatedly in other counties (such as Mecklenburg). It is organized and sactioned segregation.

The fact remains that this community and its political base panders to the growing collection of white and rich patrons who do not wish their privledge to hampered. That includes the school board and the city council.

The fact remains that less and less AA students participate in acclerated/honors/AP courses or enter the pre-college program.

Take a tour of Chapel Hill high school and then take a tour of East. That might be first on your list as a reporter.

On one of my 7 mile runs, I recently passed a group of 8 young white male adolescents who were writing a sign with the "N*" word. They were putting the sign up in a relative nice mixed neighborhood that happened to have African Americans as well as whites. When they were confronted for their actions, their reaction was a sense of entitlement.

Why are you "messing with my fun". These were CHCCS students. I would called that elist. Wouldn't you?

I was pretty much on your side until this comment...

You can already hear soccer moms whispering, “anywhere but FPG.”

As the husband of a mom who takes the kids to soccer, as well as graduate school classes, I think that is a B.S. characterization. You're going to have a hard time getting people on your side with that kind of "elitist" attitude.

I came across this blog late in the discussion but wanted to let you all know that the redistricting committee worked VERY hard to try to balance the schools as much as possible. We worked for hours, both in meetings as well as at home to try to provide as much balance as we could. Unfortunately, the way the town is populated made our job extremely difficult. When you build a school (or schools) in a wealthy neighborhood (Rashkis and Scroggs) it is impossible to create balance without bussing students miles and miles out of their way. Carrboro and FPG are situated in areas where there is not alot of wealth so the only way to raise their numbers is, again, to bus children far from their homes (ex. bringing Lake Hogan Farms to Carrboro 5 years ago)

Ms. Faley -

I'm a bit surprised by your response to my post; I believe you mistook my attempt at clarification for editorial on district racial equity.

My goal was to highlight the nuances of the interaction between Carter and Kelley that I believe the Daily Tar Heel article missed. By omitting those facts, the article gave a false impression of the meeting, and that's quite simply poor journalism.

I was not defending Kelley or criticizing Carter, so I'm puzzled by your decidedly hostile reaction to my comments. If you'll reread my original post, you'll note I never called myself an “investigative reporter,” and I resent your implications that I am not qualified to report on these education matters. On the contrary, I attended Chapel Hill's public schools beginning in first grade until my graduation from Chapel Hill High School. I have a perspective of these issues of class and race shaped not only by actually being a student in the district, but also by actually being a student enrolled in what is now called LEAP. If anything, I may “understand the real workings of the system” better than Carter herself.

As for the students you encountered during your run, no, I would not “called that elist” (sic). Racists, jerks, or goons, yes, but their behavior has nothing to do with elitism, and for that matter, has nothing to do with the point I was making in my original post.

Until I've demonstrated otherwise, I ask in the future you please not jump to conclusions about my views or my competence.

Gloria, a couple points:

-- LEAP, and other AG programs, are not meant to serve "all" students, but rather academically gifted students. So it has to be "elitist" in some sense. That doesn't make it bad -- just like there are programs to serve handicapped students (not "all" students). Everyone has special needs, even smart kids.

-- There may be a "gap" between the achievement of different racial groups, but attacking programs for academically gifted students is not going to address that. If you really believe that many white students are only successful because of private tutors, then what can you hope to accomplish? No matter what, they will still have their private tutors.

-- "rich, white, and male"... I honestly have no idea why you threw in "male" there. Have you been anywhere around the UNC campus in, oh, the last decade?

Thank you, Jon. with your focus on LEAP, you made my point for me.

oh... and jon. when you are on UNC, check out the differences in salaries between female faculty and male faculty in the same field. Then, compare the number of female and male department heads in the business and medical schools


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.