Understanding the New Assignment Plan

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Below is a point-by-point explanation of the draft assignment plan. To see a story on what happened at yesterday’s meeting click here. Read the full text of the new plan at the bottom of this post.

What follows are passages from the draft and coinciding explanations.

All current students can grandfather at their current school with their current level of district transportation through the grade span of their school.

This means all students will be able to stay at their current school and continue to ride the bus. However, it will only last through the child’s grade span, which means if a child is in 3rd grade, he or she will only be grandfathered with transportation through 5th grade. The same is true for middle and high schoolers.

Every residential address will have an elementary, middle and high school base assignment

Addresses will now be tied to a single school. This addresses the major complaint about the former choice plan that parents didn’t know where their children would go to school when moving into a new home.

Once the base attendance area is established, schools whose composite performance scores fall more than ten percentage points below the district average will be targeted for additional resources brought to bear through the Office of School Performance and the Office of Transformation.

This means that schools falling outside the ten percent mark will get extra money or programs. Essentially, this is the same strategy used in the county’s renaissance schools, which high have high concentrations of historically poor and low-performing students. Some Democrats have argued it is more sustainable to achieve balance within a school, rather than put extra resources into those that fall out-of-balance.

 Establishing the “base attendance area”: “We started by trying to have circles around the schools… we started with the premise of if we can get them into one of their closest three to five schools that would be ideal. Then we looked at the student achievement piece. We have a lot of areas where we couldn’t move a whole neighborhood of students into a single school, because it would overburden the school.” ~Chief Transformation Officer Judy Peppler

Attendance boundaries were drawn in a way that would achieve as much balance as possible without disrupting stability, said Peppler. No clear measures were established for what constitutes a balanced school and no goals were put in place for the level of balance that might be expected overtime. To simply draw a circle around a school would constitute a neighborhood schools policy, which even the school system has acknowledged could not work from a logistic standpoint. The former diversity policy assigned clusters of nodes to various schools, though oftentimes the nodes were not all together in one big group. They were spread out. This plan seems to blend the two notions of assignment boundaries.

Existing students not currently attending their base school must declare their intention to return to their base school during this online application period [i.e. the “Base Declaration Period”]… Students participating in the Base Declaration will have a guaranteed seat at their base school for the new school year. (Unless the school becomes fully capped.)

More on fully capped next. This means that students who aren’t attending their base school now, will have the option to move into their base school next year. In other words, students don’t have to grandfather.

When a school’s population exceeds the facility utilization for the campus an enrollment cap will be placed on the school to prevent school overcrowding… Schools designated with a Partial Cap will prohibit enrollment of any new non-base students to enroll at the school…. Schools designated with a Full Cap will prohibit enrollment of any new student to enroll at the school.

Schools will become partially capped when they reach 100 percent capacity. Each school will have a different determination of fully capped, which must be approved by the Board of Education. The general guidelines suggest 105 percent for elementary schools and 110 percent for middle and high schools. Only students who live in the base area will be able to attend a school once it becomes partially capped.

 Families can request placement to any school in the district that is not designated as capped.

After the Base Declaration Period and the Magnet Application Period (which will remain largely unchanged) an Open Enrollment Period will begin. During this time students can request to any school that is not capped. Transportation will not necessarily be provided.

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