Some friction arises over Woodcroft's possible move to Jordan High

Jan. 08, 2013 @ 08:41 PM

Proposed changes to middle school assignments to relieve crowding at Githens and increase attendance at Brogden seemed fine with most parents who spoke on the topic at Tuesday's Durham Public Schools meeting.

And when it came to the idea of shifting 69 students in the Woodcroft neighborhood from Hillside to Jordan High Schools, many Woodcroft residents voiced their support.

It's our neighborhood school, they said. It makes sense for their children to attend the same school where they hear marching band music blaring from throughout the year, they said.

Hugh Osteen, assistant superintendent of operational services, told the crowd of about 100 in Jordan High's auditorium that the change would relieve Hillside.

“We have space at Jordan,” Osteen said. “In technical terms, Hillside is over capacity.”

But some from the Hillside High community don't approve of the plan.

“My feeling is this is being done to appease the families that live in Woodcroft because they've always wanted to come to Jordan,” said Wanda Bass Rudd. “As long as Hillside keeps the reputation it has and you continue to send the have-nots to us, it will never rise above the water.”

William Logan, Hillside's principal, told the Board of Education that he worried about a loss of diversity at his school if students are shifted to Jordan.

“Diversity is not about race,” Logan said. “We look for diversity in experiences, we look for diversity as it relates to backgrounds, all those different things outside of race.”

He also urged administrators to take a closer look at their capacity information, noting that he had seen rejection letters for 27 Hillside students who had tried to transfer to Jordan, only to be turned down on the grounds Jordan was full.

Louise Ravn-George, who lives near Parkwood, has a daughter who attends Hillside.

“I think the classes are really advanced,” she said. “My daughter is an A honors student. She gets challenged there. The teachers are really nice. I feel it's a safe environment.”

They had the option of going to Jordan, Ravn-George said, but opted against because there was “no real challenge.”

“It's important to me that my daughter gets a taste of what the world is really like,” she said. “In any work environment, you need to learn to get along with all kinds of people.”

Bob Barrier, a former Jordan math teacher, said he recalled turmoil when his area was originally shifted from Jordan to Hillside.

“We love the schools of Durham, we love Durham and we're excited about the idea of moving back to a districting map that has consistent feeder patterns that foster relationships from elementary to high school,” Barrier said.

The DPS board is expected to vote on the proposed assignment changes Jan. 24.

“The board will think about this carefully and from a very balanced perspective,” said Heidi Carter, board chair.

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