‘We want them to stay:’ Ballantyne Elementary School parents share concerns over proposed boundaries for new relief school

BALLANTYNE, N.C. (WBTV) – Nearly 1,000 elementary students could be moving schools in the Ballantyne area.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is finalizing a new school assignment plan that would take effect in the fall of 2023 when a new elementary school opens. CMS says 715 to 970 students could be affected depending on the final boundary vote.

The new relief school will help with overcrowding at Elon Park, Ballantyne, and Hawk Ridge Elementary Schools.

Polo Ridge Elementary School’s attendance zones will stay the same.

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The new relief school will have 45 classrooms. That’s 11 more than Hawk Ridge and six more than Ballantyne and Elon Park, all of which have several mobile units.

“The relief school is great and needed in our area, all of our schools are overcrowded,” said Dawn Baynham who has one child at Ballantyne Elementary School.

Baynham moved to the Kingsley neighborhood in 2018 and says she’s always looked forward to her son and youngest children attending Ballantyne.

Chioma Onyemachi moved to Kingsley in 2020 specifically for Ballantyne and its feeder middle and high school – Community House Middle School and Ardrey Kell High School.

“When I move into an environment I always look out for the school rating,” Onyemachi said.

In a January presentation, Ballantyne was not included and Polo Ridge was included in the map proposals but switched during a February Presentation.

Recordings of the community engagement in February were published online in April and the recordings of the April 6 and May 11 meetings were added at the end of May.

Neal Saunders is the Home Owners Association President of the Kingsley neighborhood. He says families deserve more transparency and understanding of how the school district decided on boundaries and timelines for uploading information.

“How did Kingsley and Oakbrooke become the ones that needed to move,” Saunders questions. “You’re really looking at a lack of transparency.”

To view the full list of meeting materials, recordings, and maps for this and other relief school plans, click here.

Two out of the four proposed maps include moving residents in Kingsley and Oakbrooke into the Elon Park Boundary.

Baynham and Onyemahci along with several other parents walk their children to and from school in a matter of 5-10 minutes. If they are relocated to Elon Park they won’t be able to walk anymore which increases the time of their day, another reason parents want them to stay in the Ballantyne zone.

“To zone a school that’s within walking distance for a school that would take us longer to drive there is the issue that we have currently,” Baynham said.

“I’m just concerned because why would we want to increase the cost of transportation by moving our kids to Elon Park,” Onyemachi said.

All four maps include moving some students from Elon Park and Hawk Ridge to the new school. Polo Ridge students will not be moved in any of the four scenarios.

Two of the maps would keep some of the neighborhoods closest to Ballantyne Elementary in place.

Parents are contacting school leaders and even invited members of the planning services department to walk their route from the school to the neighborhood.

“We’re loud and clear telling her we want to stay at Ballantyne and that message is being received,” Baynham said.

There’s also a feedback form where parents can share suggestions and vote on their preferred map boundaries.

“We can choose the scenarios out of the four scenarios we can choose which best suits us and provide feedback as well,” Onyemahci said.

Prior to the afternoon of June 7, CMS was scheduled to have a public hearing on the boundary proposals during the June 14 meeting and the superintendent was slated to make his recommendation to the board for a vote on June 28.

“We are a little bit anxious to figure out what the logic was around some of these decisions and why people think this was the best option,” Saunders said.

Both events were rescheduled to August 9 and August 23, respectively.

Parents are hoping this extra time will help them ask more questions and get more information about the proposed boundaries.

Copyright 2022 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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