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Cabarrus School Board officially pushes back Middle School realignment vote
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Cabarrus School Board officially pushes back Middle School realignment vote

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Mark Rice

Not everyone who spoke during Monday’s public comment portion of the school board meeting was in favor of the community’s proposed alternate Green+ Plan. Several parents also spoke in opposition to it.

The Cabarrus County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to push back the vote on realignment for the new middle school set to open in the fall of 2022.

This was somewhat expected as the board discussed the possibility at last week’s work session.

“I think we need to spend a little more time, if it’s another week or whatever it is, because this is very, very important,” said Board of Education Vice Chair Tim Furr at the meeting last week. “Like we’ve said before, this is really the most important thing we do as a board, but unfortunately for our county being so popular, being such a popular place to live or go to school, we have to do this way too much, and that’s a concern. So I think the consensus is probably we need to take a little more time. You know, you can’t always get it right, but you can do what’s right, and that’s the way I’ve always approached my decisions — I want to do what’s right.”

Furr said Monday that he showed up ready to vote if that is what the rest of the board members decided to do. However, after more than two hours of public comment, with many opposing the Internal Planning Team’s realignment plan, the school board decided to officially put off a vote.

The school board likely would have put off the vote during its work session if it could have, but that could not officially be done as the public has to be notified of changes to the board’s agenda on Monday before taking such a vote.

This has been a hot topic of discussion for the last several months. Community members first addressed the board in opposition to the proposed plan for realignment in January. At that point, the group had already created an alternate proposal to the plan and collected more than 1,200 signatures opposing the IPT’s recommendation.

Since then, the group’s plan — now called the Green+ Plan — has gone through several changes, but its members are still presenting it as an alternate to the Board of Education. The petition has also grown to nearly 1,800 signatures.

“Nine hundred and 13 students are going to be going to the wrong school if you select the IPT recommendation,” said Liz Altschuler, a parent representing the group proposing the Green+ Plan. “How can you do that? How is that acceptable?”

One of the main complaints presented by the group is that many students will have feeder patterns broken with the IPT’s recommended plan. It’s an issue children are likely going to face no matter which option the school board chooses, but this group hopes to lessen that impact on students.

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Not every community member who spoke during Monday’s public comment portion of the school board meeting was in support of the Green+ Plan, though. Some saw the plan as fixing one problem while potentially creating others.

Mark Rice’s child was one of many realigned to Northwest Cabarrus High School in recent years. He said he understands the struggle many families are facing with the realignment for the new middle school. However, he does not believe they speak for everyone.

“I can understand the frustration that goes through anyone’s mind standing on this side,” he said. “However, a lot of the recurring themes that I’ve heard so far is specific to a couple communities.”

He continued: “The alignment is made for the entirety of Cabarrus County. It factors in Hickory Ridge, way far away from my little neck of the woods up northwest. This is an alignment for the entire Cabarrus community, not necessarily one segment of it.”

He said he knows student impact will always be difficult regardless of anything, and the only alternative is not to change anything. And no matter what, things like feeder patterns and utilization will be disrupted with a new school opening.

A new school is opening and has to be filled, he said, but he’s not sure if the Green+ Plan is necessarily in the best interests of everyone involved.

“Feeder patterns have been mentioned quite a bit tonight; I heard the same thing Tuesday during that meeting,” he said.

He continued: “Between the Green+ and the Blue (IPT recommended) Plan, feeder patterns are broken (no matter what), but yet it seems the solution provided by the Green+ Plan is to leave it alone. I don’t understand how, if it was broken, not changing it fixes it. It seems it only fixes it for the community that doesn’t have to move.”

The Board of Education heard from Acting Superintendent Brian Schultz and several other Cabarrus County Schools employees after the public comment section for takes on both the IPT recommendation and the Green+ Plan.

In the end, board members said they want to hear more and think more about the decision they will be making as it will impact a large portion of the community. That is why they voted unanimously to push the decision back to May.

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