Public gets another say on reassignment

The Rock Hill school board opted not to vote on proposed reassignment maps Monday, instead deciding to give the public a chance to comment on possible new changes.

The reassignment is expected to affect more than 3,000 elementary, middle and high school students. It is needed to fill Mount Holly Elementary and Dutchman Creek Middle schools, opening next fall, and to ease crowding at Rock Hill High and Old Pointe Elementary.

The school board expects to vote on the maps in about a month.

After hearing concerns from parents at earlier meetings, the board decided to amend the proposed elementary school map so several neighborhoods south of Rock Hill near Neelys Creek Road could stay at their current schools.

Parents had complained about being reassigned to Belleview, which is several miles away, when at least three other schools were within 3 miles of their homes.

The catch: A segment near Oakdale Elementary now would be switched to Belleview.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at this and know where the next push will come from," board chairman Bob Norwood said.

Looking closely at balance

The switch is necessary to maintain balance in the percentage of students with low state test scores and those who receive government-subsidized lunches. Also, it keeps Belleview at an appropriate size.

"I am not real crazy over Belleview's numbers right now," said Mikki Rentschler, a board member who also served on the reassignment committees.

"But I think some of the segment changes we made do make sense for the community and for the people that live in those segments. I don't think we can ignore that part of the process."

After much discussion, the board seemed to agree that moving students from Oakdale might be a better solution because it would affect fewer students.

The board stuck with middle school map changes discussed at an earlier meeting and put off a full discussion of the high school maps. For now, the only change to the original high school proposal would switch students in the southeast part of the district back to Rock Hill High, where they now attend.

Depending on which middle and high school maps are approved, the board might change the student transfer rule so that middle school students who are driven to school can attend the school adjoining an older sibling's high school.

Families will be notified through a Connect-ED phone message if school assignment changes.

The new proposed maps will be posted online by the end of the week, said Luanne Kokolis, a district associate superintendent.

The school board likely will discuss the maps again at its Nov. 12 work session.