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School committee to get student reassignment update Tuesday


The Auxiliary Committee of the Cumberland County Board of Education on Tuesday is expected to hear an update on proposed student reassignments following public forums that were held last week.

Five of the school board’s subcommittees - Auxiliary, Legislative, Student Support Services, Policy and Personnel - are scheduled to meet starting at 8:30 a.m.

The school system conducted three public forums throughout the community as it looks to close T.C. Berrien Elementary School.  If the school board moves forward with that proposal, students at T.C. Berrien would be reassigned to other schools in the district, school officials have said. 

T.C. Berrien Elementary School students were moved to William T. Brown Elementary School in Spring Lake after the Board of Education decided that renovations to Berrien would be too expensive.

District leaders have shared four proposed preliminary student reassignment plans. The reassignments would begin this fall. The preliminary plans are:

Ireland Drive middle proposal

There are 284 students who live in the student assignment area and attend Ireland Drive Middle in sixth through eighth grades. The Ireland Drive facility would become part of Douglas Byrd Middle.

This would consist of moving 354 students, combining the district and using both buildings and reducing staffing costs.

All of these students would feed to Douglas Byrd High School.

T.C. Berrien Elementary School

There are four proposed plans for the reassignment of T.C. Berrien. They are:

– Divide T.C. Berrien between Lucile Souders and Ferguson-Easley elementary schools. That would be a minimal movement of 178 students, where only students from T. C. Berrien are affected by the redistricting.

– Divide T.C. Berrien between Ferguson-Easley, Glendale Acres and Ashley elementary schools; connect the student assignment area by transferring students from Walker-Spivey Elementary School. This would involve the movement of 193 students, with the students from T.C. Berrien and Walker-Spivey impacted by the reassignment.

– Divide T.C. Berrien between Ferguson-Easley, Alma Easom and Vanstory Hills elementary schools; connect the student assignment area by transferring students from Walker-Spivey to Alma Easom and Vanstory and from Alma Easom and Vanstory to Glendale Acres and Ashley elementary schools. In this case, 252 students – from T.C. Berrien, Alma Easom, Vanstory and Walker-Spivey -  would be affected by the redistricting.

Most students would be affected by this option.

– T.C. Berrien is reassigned to W.T. Brown Elementary School. This plan would reassign all 178 Berrien students to W. T. Brown, where T. C. Berrien students are currently housed.

T.C. Berrien middle school plan

The proposed plan for the middle school realignment for T. C. Berrien is:

The southeastern-most part of Luther “Nick’’ Jeralds Middle School would be reassigned to R. Max Abbott Middle School, involving seven students.

Nick Jeralds has 596 students in sixth through eighth grades, with a building capacity for 716 students. This plan would reduce that number to 589.

Max Abbott has 762 students in sixth through eighth grades, with a building capacity for 950 students. This plan would increase that number to 769 students.

Lillian Black Elementary 

The three proposed reassignment plans for Lillian Black Elementary School, which has 175 students in kindergarten through fifth grades, are:

– All of Lillian Black would be reassigned to W.T. Brown. As a result, Lillian Black would be closed.

– All of Lillian Black and the southern-most portion of Manchester Elementary School would be reassigned to W.T. Brown. Besides the 175 students from Lillian Black, the 78 students from the southern-most portion of Manchester would be reassigned to W.T. Brown.

– All of the Lillian Black Elementary School district, the southern-most portion of Manchester and T.C. Berrien will be redistricted to W.T. Brown.

Overall, this would require the movement of 431 students, the closure of Lillian Black Elementary and better utilization of W. T. Brown.

 As of noon Friday, the school board had received 50 responses to the preliminary reassignment plans, according to the school system website. Some of the comments on the Ireland Drive and Douglas Byrd Middle School proposal include:

  • What will go on with the special education program/classrooms? How would this affect those students with the transition?
  • After listening to the plan for Ireland Drive and Douglas Byrd middle schools, how will this plan benefit students? The travel distance is the same (as indicated during Monday's public forum). Though staffing costs and transportation costs would decrease, there was no mention of how this merger would directly positively impact students.
  • When will a decision be finalized? As a teacher, I would like to plan ahead on where I want to work in the fall in case I don’t have a position at Ireland Drive Middle School.
  • Save money. Put those sixth-graders at Douglas Byrd Middle like it was before.

Comments on the proposals impacting Lillian Black, W.T. Brown and Manchester included:

  • Will Cumberland County Schools guarantee that we have jobs within the county?
  • What will the average class size be?
  • Most individuals in Spring Lake do not have personal transportation and there is not public transportation available in Spring Lake. What choices for schools will parents in this community truly have? 

Tuesday’s meeting will be at the Educational Resource Center, 396 Elementary Drive. It also will be live-streamed at https://www.youtube.com/user/CumberlandCoSch

The Policy Committee also is expected to consider approval of the school system’s masking policy before the recommendation is passed on to the full board. The school system is required by law to vote on the policy each month.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Cumberland County, Board of Education, school reassignment, T.C. Berrien, Lillian Black Elementary School