Representatives from the New Hanover County Board of
Education and town of Wrightsville Beach came together for breakfast on
Thursday, Feb. 28, to discuss options for the overcrowding at Wrightsville
Beach Elementary School, including the proposed
redistricting of Airlie Road
School board chairman Don Hayes attended the breakfast with
Town Manager Tim Owens, Mayor David Cignotti, alderman Bill Sisson, Superintendent
Dr. Tim Markley, assistant superintendent for planning and operations Bill
Hance and vice chair Jeannette Nichols on Thursday.
Hayes said in a previous breakfast with the county
commissioners, the commissioners said they would like to see the bond referendum, including proposed WBS renovations, postponed for a year.
“Nothing has been done or said officially,” he said.
If the bond passed, he said the plans for WBS include
expanding the cafeteria and media center.
“You’re talking four or five years down the road,” Hayes
Also on Thursday, WBS parents filled the cafeteria at the
school to rally together before gathering to speak during the public comment
portion of the upcoming school board meeting on March 5.
Before the meeting, John Allen, a Landfall resident and
father a third-grade student, said at some point Landfall would be looked at
too. His short-term solution is to work together and long-term is to get the
bond referendum passed.
“All of this can be avoided,” he said. “… I’ve got this all
Allen said the areas on the other side of the Heide Trask
drawbridge are as much a part of Wrightsville Beach as those in Wrightsville
“We’re all unified,” he said. “It’s a community.”
During the meeting, parents emphasized the importance of
emailing school board members and signing a petition opposing redistricting.
“We are much stronger when we are united.” Amy Jones said.
“They don’t want to fight a group of parents that cannot be divided.”
Mark Johnson, a WBS parent and resident of the proposed
redistricting area, said he would send out an email to all parents requesting a
pledge to cover the additional estimated $20,000 to $30,000 in cost per trailer
due to flood zone height requirements.
“What is it worth to keep your children here at school?” he
Johnson said he would announce the total amount pledged at
the school board meeting.
When redistricting becomes a topic of conversation, Hayes
said it is typical for parents to come out and make accusations about other
parents not living in the district.
He said some students do reside outside of the district and
are there because of employee benefits, the Adequate Yearly Progress program
and hardship issues.
There are seven sectors from WBS, with two from Wrightsville
Beach and three from Landfall.
“The capacity of the school is say around 260, and right now
we’ve got about 360 in there,” Hayes said. “To get it to capacity, you need to
move about 100 students, so really moving Airlie Road doesn’t solve the
The Airlie Road area redistricting to Bradley Creek
Elementary School would affect 64 students.
In addition to Airlie Road, Hayes said another option is to
move other children, such as some of the children living in Landfall.
He said the main concern is the overcrowding countywide,
including all of the schools in proximity to WBS.
Sisson said town officials shared concerns at the breakfast about
the number of trailers at WBS, having more students in trailers than in the building
classrooms and traffic concerns when parents are dropping off and picking up
“From my point of view, it helped to hear what the school
board can and can’t do,” Sisson said. “I didn’t sense any opposition from them
An update on the school by Markley is listed on the March 5 agenda, but the decision will likely not be made until the work session on
March 19. The Board of Aldermen will hear from school officials again at their
regular meeting on March 14, but Sisson said they are not anticipating voting
on anything related to the overcrowding.