Alamance-Burlington assistant superintendent Dr. Todd Thorpe presented a proposal Tuesday afternoon that would modify four elementary school attendance zones (Alexander Wilson, E.M. Holt, Hillcrest, and Smith) and change the “feeder patterns” for seven elementary schools so that all students would move to the middle and high schools within their attendance zones.
Thorpe said that the ABSS administration is looking to create “smooth transitions” between the elementary, middle, and high schools.
Based on high school enrollment figures as of Monday, “the only school that would be under capacity” in 2023-24 would be Southern High School – “even with the new high school,” Thorpe also told school board members during their work session Tuesday afternoon (see accompanying chart).
However, the capacity figures that Thorpe provided to the school board omit any projected future enrollment for the specialty schools at Cummings and Graham High schools. Nor did he provide estimated enrollment figures for each of the high schools for the 2023-24 school year that will begin in August of next year.
“I have no way of giving you a good number of kids [who are] going to enroll at Cummings and Graham,” Thorpe told the board Tuesday.
The county’s GIS mapping system is the “best tool” to find out which schools that students at specific addresses would attend, Thorpe told school board members Tuesday. “You can quickly pull it up and drill down to the houses [on a specific] street,” he said.
Several school board members questioned Tuesday about why elementary students would eventually attend high schools that are not within their current attendance zones.
Bowden said, “something that stood out” for him is that North Graham Elementary School is “right next to” Graham High School, but those students wouldn’t necessarily attend Graham High School as they progress.
“The pathway to get to Southeast High School made sense,” Butler elaborated. “We did look at other schools to go there, but the numbers fit. I’m more concerned about making all of the schools that we can as evenly-balanced as possible; that’s why North Graham was chosen.”
Gant questioned why students at Grove Park Elementary School, which she said is “literally a stone’s throw from Turrentine and Cummings,” would eventually feed into Southern Middle and Southern High schools. “How long does it take the bus from Grove Park to get to Southern?” she asked, adding, “I don’t know that the parents are going to love it.”
“What seems to be a lot of distance,” Thorpe responded, “is not so much in time.”
School board members are currently scheduled to resume their discussion at their next meeting in two weeks.