09/06/08 — Speak now, or ... : With redistricting on the table, public should have its say

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Speak now, or ... : With redistricting on the table, public should have its say

Uh oh. It's back. You can almost see the bickering waiting to explode
again -- or at least another round of back and forth comments on who
really knows what is right for the county's schools.

And it was going so well.

This week, a sitting county commissioner -- albeit a lame duck --
suggested that it is time for the county to consider drawing new school
district lines.

The idea, Atlas Price said, is that by redistricting, the school system
will be better able to distribute resources, and there might be less of
a need to build new schools because all of the available facilities
will be used to their fullest extent.

And then there is the perennial fairness issue -- the assertion that
there is segregation in the schools, unofficially, because of the way
the district lines are drawn and that there is a deficiency for some
students because of those lines.

Now, this statement was on the heels of even more commentary about how
the county schools are using new buildings as a solution to a problem
that is so much deeper than cosmetic.

It almost seems that after about six to eight months of harmony and
willingness to "work together," the harnesses are beginning to strain a

Anyone who thinks there is not going to be a discussion about
redistricting in this county over the next few years -- if not sooner --
has had one too many wishes on a star. There will be many more
questions in the future about not only school makeup, but the question
of neighborhood schools vs. behemoth county programs as well. Just as
much as Goldsboro parents might want to know about the future for their
school, parents in Rosewood and Grantham want their say about their
children's futures as well.

Looking at the schools and their makeup, it is hard not to see that
there are certain schools that have larger minority populations, and
that some have lower test scores.

But the question really is -- what is the actual cause and effect
relationship, and if there is one, what should be done about it?

Price brought up the discussion -- along with the caveat that he doubted
he could get his fellow commissioners to talk about the possibility of
any action on the district lines. And he is probably right. No one
really wants to talk about that political football.

But since he has brought up the question, county residents should make
their feelings known. If you have something to say about district lines
or neighborhood schools or anything else that affects where your
children go to get an education and in what kind of building -- now is
the time to speak up.

The county commissioners and school board are still a long way from
complete agreement on what is needed for Wayne County schools. And
there will be more discussion about achievement vs. facilities as that
debate rolls on. What will keep it from becoming another bottleneck or
finger-pointing and inaction is, quite frankly, what the community is
willing to accept.

And that starts with not letting either board guess at how the
community feels about the schools' future, but actually sending them a

Redistricting is a good place to start.

Published in Editorials on September 6, 2008 10:45 PM