Redistricting on horizon for overcrowded Githens

Board also gets ‘clean audit’ report, plans roof and tech expenses
Dec. 06, 2012 @ 08:23 PM

A proposed Durham Public Schools redistricting plan could mean relief for Githens Middle School in the 2013-14 academic year.

With more than 1,000 students enrolled, Githens is at 119 percent capacity. So, DPS administrators on Thursday presented a plan to the Board of Education’s administrative services committee that would shift some Githens students to Brogden and Lowe’s Grove and some from Lowe’s Grove to Githens.

Hugh Osteen, the district’s assistant superintendent for operation services, said this move would help make better use of Lowe’s Grove and Brogden, which are at 85 percent and 78 percent capacity, respectively.

The plan as seen on Thursday would also move 43 students from Hillside High School to Jordan. Hillside is similarly overcrowded, running at about 104 percent capacity, Osteen said. Board chair Heidi Carter noted that it also might be worthwhile to further relieve crowding concerns at Hillside by shifting students in the Woodcroft neighborhood to Jordan.

The plan’s not final yet, though. The committee voted unanimously to put the plan on the Dec. 20 agenda for discussion by the full board. After that, board members expect to pursue input from neighborhoods affected by the plan.

“Our practice has been to have some discussion with parents and I’d like to see us following that practice in this case,” said board member Leigh Bordley.

Superintendent Eric Becoats said the administration would make arrangements for informing the community and meeting with affected families before the Feb. 20 magnet school application deadline.

Areas affected include:

  • Neighborhoods bordered by Highway 15/501 to the west, Durham Freeway to the north and Duke University Boulevard to the southeast.
  • Neighborhoods in the Hope Valley Road area that are part of wedge of territory currently assigned to Lowe’s Grove that sticks into the Githens zone.
  • Neighborhoods bordered by Fayetteville Street to the west, Obie Drive to the north, Barbee Road to the east and Windcrest Road to the south.

The goal would be to move a net 75 students from Githens and bring capacity down to about 110 percent, while Lowe’s Grove (due to get a new magnet program next year) drops to 96.5 percent and Brogden climbs to 90.3 percent capacity.

Osteen also explained that the redistricting would create a more consistent feeder pattern for students in these areas as they transition from elementary to middle to high school:

  • Students at E.K. Powe and Forest View elementary schools now would normally attend Brogden for middle school and Riverside for high school.
  • Students at Southwest Elementary now would normally attend Githens for middle school and either Hillside or Jordan for high school.
  • Students at Parkwood Elementary now would normally attend Lowe’s Grove for middle school and Hillside for high school.

In other committee business:

  • Board members approved putting an expenditure of $500,000 from the 2012-13 fund balance for the Summer Bridge program on the consent agenda for Dec. 20.
  • Board members got a preview of the audit report by Rives & Associates, which will officially be presented on Dec. 20. Len Rives, a partner in the Raleigh firm, described the report as “a clean audit,” which shows that the assets of the board exceeded liabilities by more than $416 million. The unassigned fund balance is at about $9.9 million, but Rive recommended that DPS seek to be no lower than $10.8 million and at least as high as $16 million, if possible, to be prepared for emergency budget contingencies.
  • The board approved putting a $1.3 million change order on the Dec. 20 consent agenda for a complete roof replacement at the district’s Bacon Street Center. Originally, $862,220 in 2003 bond funds were assigned to repairing part of the roof, but a later assessment showed that the entire roof should be replaced, Osteen said.
  • The board approved putting recommendations on the consent agenda for about $800,000 in bids to upgrade the wireless systems in schools throughout the district. Quantum Technology of Cornelius would be paid $413,344.81 for cabling services. Davis Technical Staffing and Consulting of Morrisville would be paid $370,968 for equipment installation.
  • The board approved putting a proposal on the Dec. 20 agenda to move forward with pilot programs at City of Medicine Academy and Hillside New Tech High School that would allow students to take home district-owned computers that are assigned to them.


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