LILLINGTON — When it comes to the Harnett County Board of Education’s plans to redistrict students, the Lillington Board of Commissioners literally never got the memo.
Lillington Mayor Glenn McFadden, during Monday morning’s board briefing, told commissioners that neither he or Town Manager Joseph Jeffries received any notice from the education board regarding its plans to move nearly 300 students in an effort to address overcrowding.
“Officially, nobody from the school board has reached out to the town of Lillington in any capacity to ask us one way or the other what we thought about anything,” McFadden said. “They sent us nothing.”
Once he heard the news, McFadden said he reached out to school board members Eddie Jaggers and Bill Morris to express his concerns. While he understands the education board’s need to do something, McFadden feels the new district proposals adversely affect Lillington.
“I did look at the map and noticed that they were splitting up our town,” said McFadden. “I called Eddie and Bill and spoke to them personally and said I thought we needed to keep the town together where we could. They both told me that when they were looking at the maps to move these students it did not show the town of Lillington’s corporate limits.”
McFadden expressed specific concerns regarding redistricting in the Spring Hill subdivision. When redistricting came up in 2014, McFadden served on a committee tasked with finding ways to avoid splitting up subdivisions and doesn’t understand why a similar approach shouldn’t be taken when it comes to Lillington.
When McFadden heard that a school board member questioned why Lillington officials did not respond to the redistricting proposal, he expressed frustration about being out of the loop.
“We can’t respond if you don’t reach out to us,” McFadden said. “We had no idea they were doing this. With that said, once we did find out what was going on, Joseph and I reached out and expressed our concerns. There is nothing we can do. This is between the county commissioners and the county school board. We’re just caught in the middle. Nobody reached out to us. My only thing is don’t split up the town of Lillington’s kids.”
Jeffries said he didn’t learn of the proposal until someone emailed him with questions when he was in California. While he understands the need for action, Jeffries felt the town should’ve been informed of the school board’s plans.
“The only thing I have an issue with is that we need to be at least in the loop and part of the discussion,” Jeffries said. “We were not. It doesn’t make sense that a high school district can go all the way to Wake County, all the way to Cumberland County.”
McFadden says the ordeal has morphed into a political battle between the county’s two boards.
“If it hadn’t been for somebody emailing Joseph we would’ve had no idea,” said McFadden. “It’s a mess. It’s become so political. It’s a political mess and doesn’t have anything to do with the town.”
McFadden made clear that his opposition to the plan has nothing to do with individual schools, and solely is focused on ensuring Lillington stays whole and is not split up over redistricting.
“I’m certainly not going to say one school is better than another,” McFadden said. “I know some folks are upset and nobody wants to move their kids. With that said, we’ve got to do something.”
Lillington commissioners meet for the monthly meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Eliot Duke can be reached at email@example.com or at 910-230-2038.