Next school year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will embark on a controversial but promising project — combining two well-regarded elementary schools with nearby low-performing ones.
Dilworth Elementary will be combined with the stubbornly struggling Sedgefield Elementary, with kids who live in the two neighborhoods going to Sedgefield for grades K-2 and Dilworth for 3-5. Similarly, Cotswold Elementary is getting paired with Billingsville.
While the partnerships haven’t truly begun just yet, there are already encouraging signs. Parent groups have embraced the pairings and have thrown themselves into making the partnerships work, marshaling resources and demanding accountability.
Should the next year or two prove successful, I’d expect CMS and new superintendent Clayton Wilcox to look at more school pairings.
While these are difficult in a county where poverty is all too often sequestered, there are a few areas where pairing more schools could strengthen persistently low-performing schools without disruption of a higher-performing neighbor.
I took a look at the current boundary maps and cross-referenced with enrollment data to find the most likely candidates. Only bordering school zones with significant differences in socioeconomic population are included.
Huntingtowne Farms and Beverly Woods
Huntingtowne Farms is 80 percent low income, while Beverly Woods is only 2 percent low income, despite only being separated by Park Road.
The recently reopened Starmount Academy of Excellence, at 97 percent low income, is a bit farther but could also make a good pairing with Beverly Woods.
Montclaire and Selwyn
Montclaire is 90 percent low income despite being so close to SouthPark and Myers Park. Selwyn Elementary is 8 percent low income.
Pinewood Elementary is a bit closer to Selwyn, and at 79 percent low income would also make a good pairing.
Sterling and Pineville
Sterling is 80 percent low income, while Pineville is just 35 percent low income.
Greenway Park and Lansdowne
Greenway Park is 83 percent low income. Lansdowne has about half that percentage. Using this year’s numbers, together they’d create a school with a 64 percent low-income population with a cluster of high-income students, similar to the First Ward Creative Arts Academy or East Mecklenburg High.
Rama Road could perhaps be worked into the mix as well.
Hickory Grove with Reedy Creek
Hickory Grove is 91 percent low income. Reedy Creek is almost completely middle income. Together, they’d become two middle-income schools.