The Lincoln County Board of Education has scheduled a Special Called Public Hearing and Work Session for Tuesday (April 5th) beginning at 6:00 PM. The purpose of the Public Hearing is to provide an opportunity for public comments regarding the proposed school boundary line revisions at Norris S. Childers Elementary School, Union Elementary School, Love Memorial Elementary School, and North Brook Elementary School. The meeting will be held at Norris S. Childers Elementary School at 2595 Rock Dam Road.
The hearing will be in the gymnasium. Prior to the hearing, those who wish will have the opportunity to sign up to speak from 5:15 until 6 PM.
A news release from Lincoln County Schools indicated that the recommended changes are due to the projected population growth on the Startown Road corridor.
Lincoln County Schools Chief Operating Officer Eric Eaker told us that the increased population in that area isn't due to a single new development but to overall growth, both in existing and approved but yet to be built developments as well as multiple new homes not part of any specific development.
Eaker said what is happening in the Startown Road area is similar to growth that has happened in much of eastern Lincoln County. "Population isn't constant. As more homes are built, it shifts. In East Lincoln, it appears likely that sometime in the next few years, we may have to build a new school. We have space available for our student population, but changes in population in certain areas are making keeping class sizes where they should be more difficult."
Norris Childers School is currently at about 88% capacity. Students in three areas will--if the School Board approves the plan--be switched from Norris Childers to North Brook, Union, or Love Memorial schools. Union is currently at about 67% capacity; Love Memorial at 68%; and North Brook at 76%.
Some of those who commented on Facebook were concerned that students would be separated from friends. "All of these students--in the Norris Childers district as well as the other three sections that may be reassigned to North Brook, Union or Love Memorial, will still be in the West Lincoln Middle School and West Lincoln High School districts; this will only affect the elementary school grades."
Lincoln County's population grew by over 11% between 2010 and 2020 according to the US Census; while that was a bigger percentage growth than Catawba or Cleveland, Lincoln has grown much more rapidly since 2020. The Census Bureau estimates the county's population increased by 2.8% in 2021.
In the 2020 census, compared with the one in 2010, Catawba Springs township grew by 33%; Ironton township grew by 6.5%; Lincolnton township lost 0.5% of its population; Howards Creek township grew by 1%; and North Brook township lost 3.7%. The shift in population so far has been to the east, but recently, some of that growth has begun to impact central Lincoln County.
The proposed realignment of school districts, moving some areas that are currently in the Norris Childers attendance district to Union, North Brook & Love Memorial, hasn't yet been approved by the School Board. Eaker told us, "If the board approves the plan, it will take effect for the 2022-2023 school year."
This meeting and the public hearing will not be live-streamed on YouTube. The schools continue to live-stream regular board meetings, but have discontinued live-streaming work sessions...and this meeting won't be at the Administration Bldg. but at Norris Childers School.
Those who want to speak should sign up from 5:15 - 6:00 prior to the public hearing.