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A Place To Start On CMS Student Assignment

Lisa Worf

The CMS policy committee Thursday decided on a draft of goals to guide the process of drawing new attendance zones for schools.  That may not seem like much, but it’s a starting place.  In the coming weeks, the full CMS board will have the chance to weigh in and so will the community. 

WFAE’s Lisa Worf joins All Things Considered host Mark Rumsey:

MR: Lisa, what are the goals?

LW: These are going to sound very familiar, since the committee has been tossing around variations of them for many months now. There’s: reduce the number of schools with high concentrations of poor and high-needs children.  That describes nearly half of CMS schools. Then there’s: preserve and expand schools and programs in which students are successfully achieving the mission and vision of the board.

MR: That’s a mouthful.

LW: Yes, school board member Eric Davis put it more concisely “don’t screw up what’s working.” And obviously there’s some tension between those two, since how do you make changes to so many schools without impacting all of them. 

MR: Which goal gets priority? 

LW: The committee has assigned no priority to the goals. The committee’s chairman Tom Tate says that will make for some good conversation ahead. 

MR: Are there any additional goals?

LW: Yes, provide options to students assigned to schools that are not meeting performance standards. That’s reminiscent of an opt-out policy parents had under no-child left behind. But that was lifted two years ago. And the last goal says the district will use all resources including transportation and facilities to reduce overcrowding and promote equitable access to programs. 

MR: When will we actually see some new school attendance boundary plans?

LW: That’s a long way off. These plans would be for the 2017-18 school year. But board members could decide to delay them a year. They need to make that decision by the end of May. CMS will soon send out online surveys asking parents and community members a bunch of questions like what’s important in selecting a school. For example, proximity to home, schedule, and racial and socioeconomic diversity.  The board will hold a public hearing on February 9, followed by a vote on the goals late February. From there, they’ll hire a consultant to so that they can have something more concrete that the public can weigh in on.