With the the new Northside Elementary School, a.k.a. elementary #11, set to open next summer (as well as Frank Porter Graham Elementary School's transition to a dual-language magnet school), we'll be forced to go through another dreaded reassignment process to balance enrollment and capacity at our oft-crowded elementary schools. Superintendent Tom Forcella issued a memo on August 2 (PDF) about how this could go.
Forcella says he expects to reassign over 1,000 elementary school students. A redistricting team of 8 staff members has already been created. They are charged with creating three plans to be reviewed by a Redistricting Advisory Council, made up of staff and parent representatives from all the elementary schools and from Carrboro High School, which will recommend one to the School Board.
The superintendent's memo reviews the recommendations of a committee that evaluated the last redistricting (for Morris Grove Elementary in 2008), but chose not follow their advice in some situations to various legal and logistical considerations. He recommends the following factors be considered in the reassignment process:
- Minimize capacity problems at all the elementary schools.
- Use more accurate data on students by pulling information after the 20th day of school, rather than the previous year's data as done in the past.
- Develop a communication plan to reach all parents, including "parent letters, post cards, radio and media releases, electronic phone call system, videos, and a comprehensive website."
- Seek socioeconomic balance by looking at average home prices in each "segment" (the unit of neighborhoods used in assignment). The school system cannot look at the number of students receiving free and reduced school lunches for this purpose, according to the state and the USDA.
- Seek achievement balance by looking at the end-of-grade (EOG) scores of students in each segment. Other assessments may also be included.
- Consider dual language implications.
- Attempt to place at least one Pre-K classroom at each school.
- Be sensitive to middle school feeder patterns.
- Move some students out of Carrboro High school which is already over its designated SAPFO capacity.
It seems like opportunities for public comment will be fairly limited, mostly channelled into e-mail/web comments and two public hearings. I can tell you right now that people will be complaining about this. Here are some key dates from the memo:
Redistricting Advisory Council Meetings 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Carrboro High School Café Commons
• Monday November 5, 2012
• Monday November 12, 2012
• Monday November 19, 2012
• Monday November 26, 2012
Public Hearings 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
• Monday December 3, 2012 Carrboro High School Auditorium
• Wednesday December 12, 2012 Chapel Hill High School Auditorium Board of Education
• Thursday December 20, 2012 7:00 p.m. Work Session at Lincoln Center
• Thursday January 17, 2012 7:00 p.m. Discussion & Action at Town of Chapel Hill Town Hall