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Editorial: Redistricting tradeoffs and opportunities

The school redistricting debate has finally gotten to the idea so many people advocated: moving the Country Club area out of Salisbury High and into the North Rowan High School district. The time may have come for people who live off Mocksville Avenue to turn down Hawkinstown Road and make the quick trip to North Rowan each day.
Reaction from the targeted area might not be as strong as some are expecting. The idea comes up every few years; it is part of the redistricting exercise. In the final analysis, it has always been taken off the table because it creates more problems than it solves. Cool heads should prevail as the school board considers whether this is the case once again.
The only way this move could work would be to redistrict other students into Salisbury at the same time the Country Club moves out. The neighborhoods along N.C. 150 are the logical choice. Wrestling them away from their allegiance to West Rowan could be tough; they fought a similar proposal several years ago. But if proximity is to be the guide, this makes undeniable sense.
Proximity would also favor ditching the far-fetched idea of moving Westcliffe to North and instead shifting the Salisbury neighborhoods of Country Club Hills and Eagle Heights. That leaves a big gap to fill at Salisbury with current West students. Every redistricting move creates another problem. Which school is the board going to throw under the bus?
None of them, if logic prevails. The school system needs to make good use of faculties and offer opportunities that are as equal as possible. From that standpoint, it should not matter which high school a student attends. Every school should offer a full complement of courses and activities. Not every high school will include the friends a student went to elementary school with; the schools will have different faculties and administrators, too. But every high school should offer students similar opportunities to learn and grow. That has to be the goal, not tradition or parochialism.
The school board must take care to avoid setting itself up for failure as it did a few years ago, moving students out of North into Salisbury. The resulting drop in enrollment at North is what necessitated this redistricting study. A successful school is a delicate balance. Everyone in the Rowan-Salisbury system should advocate giving every high school an optimum balance, not just resisting change by pointing elsewhere and saying, “Move them!”
Moving the Country Club area would signal the end of an era at Salisbury High, an era in which teens from virtually all city neighborhoods attended the same high school. But it would also create room to move neighborhoods that are very close by into Salisbury High where they logically belong. It’s a trade-off, one in which proximity and efficiency trump city limits.
The school board is doing the best it can to engineer a plan that works for everyone. Meanwhile, the invisible hand of the economy is reshaping the community in ways we have not yet fully recognized. Traditions are nice, but change is afoot.

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