FORT MILL -- The Fort Mill school board on Monday approved a reassignment plan that will shift at least 45 neighborhoods and about 1,260 elementary students from their current schools.
The vote concludes a contentious, six-month process, as parents angry about reassignment proposals bombarded school officials and board members with complaints.
Before the board voted Monday, district Superintendent Keith Callicutt recommended a new reassignment plan. It differs from the recommendation he made to board members last month.
There was little discussion between members before they voted. Each offered comments.
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"Two weeks ago, I probably would've voted differently than I will tonight," said board member Michael Johnson. He credited parents who made "rational" arguments with swaying his opinion.
The board unanimously approved Callicutt's new plan. Board member Lewis Graham was absent.
Callicutt said the new plan reflects the barrage of feedback he received from parents, staff and school board members.
"I want this community to know that this board and this administration do listen," Callicutt told dozens of onlookers.
The reassignment comes as the district prepares to open two new schools in August, bringing the number of elementaries to seven.
Sugar Creek Elementary
Sugar Creek Elementary will open off Farm House Road and pull all of its expected 586 students from Springfield Elementary.
Parents in the Regent Park area mounted a campaign demanding the district rethink Sugar Creek's demographics. About 25 percent of the school's students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. That's higher than the district's average 18 percent.
Some parents said they worry that means fewer parents will get involved and donate fewer dollars. They said they're concerned that education quality will suffer.
The board did not change Sugar Creek's attendance area.
Pleasant Knoll Elementary will open off Pleasant Road with about 676 students. Most will come from Orchard Park Elementary, with some coming from Gold Hill Elementary.
Callicutt's amended plan shifts fewer Gold Hill Elementary students to Pleasant Knoll than earlier proposals. He warned that could mean another enrollment freeze for Gold Hill, which will be about 10 students away from its 900-student capacity.
The plan also allowed several neighborhoods to remain assigned to Orchard Park Elementary. Sutton Place, Wimbleton Woods and Willowbrook had been slated to send children to Riverview Elementary, but the board allowed them to stay at Orchard Park.
After the meeting, Callicutt said feedback he received convinced him that the district could postpone some of the changes he wanted to make to attendance areas.
"Parents made the case to board members and me that some of those changes don't have to happen now," he said. "We're postponing gaining the balance (in enrollment and demographics) we were seeking."
But, he said, "eventually these decisions will have to be made." The district expects to open an eighth elementary school in August 2011.
"In another year," Callicutt said, "we'll start this whole (reassignment) thing again."
Several Fort Mill neighborhoods have been reassigned from their current elementary schools. Here's a list of some that will send children to new schools:
Hamlin Hills at Balmoral
Lake View Apartments
The Overlook at Regent Park
Twin Lakes Estates
Woburn Abbey at Regent Park
Ashford on the Water
Four Seasons at Gold Hill
Fox Hill Estates
Stone Acre Farm
The Reserve at Gold Hill
Whitley Mills Townhouses