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Charlotte Area

Long-anticipated vote tonight on new Mint Hill High boundaries

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board will vote tonight on the district's recommendations for the boundaries of the new Mint Hill High School. This follows months of emotionally charged debates between the district and the town. Now, it appears no one from Mint Hill will attend Mint Hill High School. WFAE's Simone Orendain explains: It comes down to poverty - Mint Hill doesn't have enough of it. Many in the town, including its leaders, want the school's attendance zone to fall within Mint Hill's boundaries. But school board members are saying no. They prefer plans that spread populations of students who receive free and reduced price lunches across multiple schools. The lunch status is an indication of poverty levels at schools. And poverty is a marker for whether students struggle academically. Mint Hill residents and town leaders came up with a plan that would mean a school made up of high-income, high performing students. But the school board shot it down in June. Tonight, the board is expected to approve a plan that essentially shifts most students from the town of Mint Hill to the Independence High attendance zone. Independence has 54 percent of students on free and reduced lunch. Mint Hill parent Julie Andrews says residents are angry because there isn't one uniform way that the district determines where to put a new school. She says, "They have nine different board members with nine different agendas with things that they want. And so planning has to kind of pick and choose and say, 'What can we get passed?' not 'What's fair? What's best for the community?'" Board Chair Molly Griffin says she doesn't think anyone is going to get exactly what they want out of this new proposal. "What people don't understand is I will get three e-mails right in a row, wanting three entirely different things. And not understanding why we just can't listen and give them what they want it's not possible to satisfy everyone. When we're done, I just hope the people will look at it and say, 'This isn't exactly what I wanted but it does make sense,'" says Griffin. The Mint Hill residents say they supported the 2007 bond package with the promise that it would help fund a new school that addresses overcrowding at the two high schools designated for the town. Now, Andrews says they feel like CMS pulled a "bait and switch" with this plan. She says residents won't be so quick support future bond packages after this contentious period.