Some of the bitterest battles in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools involve residents who believe that their neighborhood ought to be zoned for a different school.
They bring personal stories and reams of data, hoping to make their case. They talk about having to drive past the closest school to get to the one their kids are assigned to, or about being split from the rest of their neighborhood by a seemingly arbitrary boundary. Often they're sent away, and when a neighborhood request does get school board approval it raises questions about why one got through and not the others. Generally, it has been confusing and frustrating for all concerned.
There's a ranking process to size up the merits of each request, with travel distance and effective use of resources as top-priority concerns. Keeping neighborhoods together and protecting economic diversity at schools are a bit lower on the list, and stability, predictability and keeping elementary zones intact also factor in.
Jeremy Stephenson of southeast Charlotte's Crown Colony neighborhood described himself as ecstatic to get this far. That neighborhood has long struggled to get rezoned from East Meck to Providence.
"Dr. Morrison last October met our request, and all others, with the call for such a process map, and now one is in place," Stephenson said in an email. "We view this as a further boost of Dr. Morrison’s credibility with the community writ large."
McCully listed 13 neighborhoods that have made requests for boundary changes. Four, including Crown Colony, have submitted the formal request to start the new review process, he said. Morrison said he'll bring any staff recommendations to the board in November. Even if the staff decides against a request, Morrison said the board will get the information so members can come to their own conclusion.