Student Reassignment Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
As the Orange County Schools prepare for a comprehensive student reassignment plan, these frequently asked questions have been shared with the staff, administration, and Board of Education. This FAQ will be updated as new questions come in.
Why is OCS Reassigning Students?
- Why is OCS reassigning students?
Orange County is experiencing rapid growth in the western (Mebane) part of the district. As new families move in, there is less space available for students in our schools. Along with the overcrowding, there are challenges with uneven bus transportation times, unbalanced socioeconomic status of our students, and concerns about fair staffing when the number of students varies widely among schools.
- The amount of student to teacher ratio is concerning. How can we decrease the 20-25 students in classroom to receive a better education?
Teachers are alloted to schools based on ratios and funding formulas. The state allows capacity in grades K-3 to exceed the state allotment by 3 students. However, there are no class size caps in grades 4-12. Student class sizes in OCS range from 25-28 in upper elementary and middle school to averages of 32 in high schools. Because of overcrowding, some elementary schools have higher class sizes. The state allows us to temporarily exceed legislated class sizes when a school (such as Efland-Cheeks Elementary) grows by more than 5% in a school year. Reassigning students from overcrowded schools to those with more space will help reduce class sizes.
- Why can’t we build a new school or addition instead?
Projections do not show the need for a new school for at least 10 years in the district based on the formula established by the Board of County Commissioners for building new schools or adding space to existing schools. Instead, we need to redistribute students and staff among our existing facilities for a more even balance of resources. The charts below show the imbalance of utilization.
Who Will Be Reassigned?
- What grade levels and how many students will be reassigned? Will overcrowded school students have a higher probability of being reassigned?
All school grade levels will be considered for reassignment. The bulk of the students in overcrowded or underutilized buildings are at the elementary level; however, the reassignment plan will review and make any necessary recommendations for middle and high schools as well. For example, middle school will be reassigned to even out the population and to align feeder patterns. Schools with higher utilization (overcrowded schools) will have more students reassigned to another school with more space.
- Will Staff and Services Be Reassigned?
The number of classroom teachers, TAs, and special services staff is directly related to the number of students. Staff is distributed by the number of students at each school; AIG and ESL staff are determined by the number of students who qualify for these services. The teaching model is chosen by the principal at each school. Various instructional models, including individual pull-outs or co-teaching to a larger group, are used to provide services.
- The potential criteria were shared. At what point will this group or the board share the criteria and priorities for redistricting?
The Reassignment Committee and the community will have opportunities to share their thoughts and rankings about the priorities. They are expected to be brought to the Board in August or September for discussion and direction.
- What role, if any, does the redistricting committee that was formed have on the decisions?
The Reassignment Committee is made up of parents, staff, and community members chosen by school principals as representatives of their school communities. The district Equity Team, parents of children with special needs, and others are included. The Committee considers the impact of the reassignment plans on the families they represent, and shares that feedback with the reassignment staff.
- Who, specifically, is making the new map? Is it the board members themselves? Or a company that’s been hired?
The Board is working with the partners linked here to create the maps.
Stability/Siblings/Legacy Students (Grandfathering)
- Would students be reassigned in their last year of elementary/middle/high school? Would younger siblings be grandfathered?
We will be considering options for allowing students in the last year of their school level to remain at their schools. Stability is a positive outcome of grandfathering, however the delay in placing students at assigned schools puts continued strain on overcrowded schools.
- What will be done so families don't have siblings at different schools?
The Board assignment policy (4150) provides options for keeping siblings, including step and foster siblings, together whenever possible within legislated class size regulations.
- For students that have specific learning needs, moving creates extra challenges. Will those students be examined specifically?
The needs of all district students will be considered by the Reassignment Committee, district staff, and Board of Education. Information on specific students is confidential; Exceptional Children’s staff will carefully consider the needs of students with IEPs.
- I have moved into a Cedar Ridge School-assigned part of Orange County for the IB program, would we have to apply for choice school if we are reassigned to Orange High?
No. Students who are accepted into the IB program remain in the program as they are eligible to enroll in the district.
- Is there any chance for extending the year-round program to more grade levels?
No. The Board of Education has stated that there will be no expansion of special programs as part of the reassignment process.
- Is it possible to redistrict/reassign students to our current elementary school setup, without creating a transportation nightmare (given that most - if not all - of our elementary schools were constructed during a time of segregated, neighborhood schools)?
This is one of the more challenging aspects of the student reassignment process. The district has hired consultants from the Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) at NC State University to assist with balancing transportation times, developing bus routes, and creating assignment plans that meet the priorities set by the Board.
- Right now our neighborhood goes to a different middle than the majority of our elementary, would this be remediated?
Yes. One of the purposes of the project is to realign feeder patterns and eliminate these situations.
- Is there a large discrepancy between different school performance? Where would we go to see how schools are performing comparably? What if I don’t want my child to be reassigned to a school that has a lower performance rating than their current school?
One of the goals of the reassignment plan is balancing academic achievement among schools. This includes minimizing high concentrations of low-performing students at each school and promoting socioeconomic diversity at each school. A geographical analysis of third-grade reading test scores will be one of the techniques used to achieve this balance. NC school report cards are one way of rating school performance; Orange County Schools has many Points of Pride that show countless ways that OCS is realizing the vision to “prepare each and every learner for lifelong service and success.”
- Will high school students lose their athletic eligibility if they are reassigned?
No–students are eligible to play for the school to which they are assigned.
- In previous redistricting discussions, Hillsborough Elementary was going to be combined with Central Elementary. Whatever happened to that plan?
The Board of Education did not approve the proposal.
Questions About Specific Plans
- Is the Churton Grove neighborhood going to be reassigned out of River Park?
In draft plans 1 & 2b, Churton Grove stays at River Park. In Plan 2a, Churton Grove is assigned to Pathways.
- Is there a reason for carving out only a small section of River Park (Burkes Meadow)?
Each draft represents a different way to meet the Board goal of balancing academic achievement, operational efficiency, proximity, and stability.
- Why not move the lines south for Pathways so more River Park kids go there...and that allows some New Hope kids to go to River Park? This might also allow Collins Ridge to get pulled into River Park or New Hope?
Draft plan 2b addresses these concerns.
- Why is OCS reassigning students?