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Editorial: Spare North this change

If North Rowan High School becomes a 1A school today, the North community will have some former members of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to thank for it, at least in part.
During one of its many redistricting votes in early 2006, the board approved a plan conceived by then-member Jim Shuping that moved students in the northeast area of the city ó bounded by I-85, Innes Street, Main Street and Bringle Ferry Road ó from North Rowan to Salisbury High. Had that not happened, North would most likely have plenty of students to remain in the 2A athletic conference and continue competing with its traditional rivals.
School officials estimated in 2006 that North’s enrollment would jump from 791 to 914 because of other adjustments to the district. Enrollment was expected to remain in the 900s for two years and then drop to 792 by 2014-15 ó back to where it started. Granted, you’d need to be clairvoyant to know exactly how many students will live in a school district in future years, but the projections were way off. The enrollment figure on which the N.C. High School Athletic Association is basing its North Rowan decision is 719 ó less than it had at the outset of redistricting and just about 13 or 14 short of being able to stay in the 2A division.
At the time of the redistricting vote, then-Chairman Bryce Beard expressed concern that the North Rowan schools were getting shorted, but he was in the minority. The rest of the board went along with Shuping’s idea of keeping Salisbury’s neighborhoods together, even though no one in the area made a peep about wanting that done. The unintended consequence is a shrinking North Rowan High School. In the course of making district lines follow Salisbury city limit lines ó and juggling all the districts to fill Carson High ó the board set the stage for North Rowan to find itself in the situation it’s in today, hoping and praying the NCHSAA will see things North’s way.
Beard, who is still on the school board, was not available for comment Wednesday evening when called by the Post. Shuping, reached at home, was glad to weigh in on the subject.
Shuping said he had not expected North’s enrollment to fall as far as it has. You’d need a crystal ball for that, he said, and though he lives in the East district now, he’s a proud North Rowan graduate himself. He hopes North will remain 2A.
Shuping also said he has no regrets about moving students out of North’s district. “I don’t see how anyone can argue with the fact that they’re a whole lot closer to Salisbury High,” Shuping said. “I stand by the plan. It’s fair.”
North Rowan supporters might disagree.
Virtually all of Rowan County hopes this “numbers game,” as Shuping calls it, will be a moot point by the end of the day. Everyone here hopes the NCHSAA will see the wisdom of allowing North Rowan to remain a 2A school, sparing its athletes long trips and their academic consequences. So it’s fitting that the school board, which had a hand in causing this situation, passed a resolution Monday supporting North’s efforts. The board should also resolve in the future to be more attentive to the needs of North Rowan High School.

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