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Magnet School Student Assignment Plan Approved

Community meeting on magnet school assignment plan
Gwendolyn Glenn/WFAE
Community meeting on magnet school assignment plan

Charlotte Mecklenburg School board approved a student assignment plan for the district’s magnet programs Wednesday night. The process involved about 18 months of discussions, community meetings and hearings.

Credit Courtesy of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

The goal of the newly approved plan is to create a more economically and racially diverse mix of students at schools. A complicated lottery system will use socio economic measures, such as parents’ income, their educational levels and English proficiency, to determine who gets in. It will affect new magnet applicants and not those currently enrolled. Board member Ruby Jones is optimistic about the plan, but says more needs to be done.

“This is a great start, the goals are ambitious but we have a lot of work to do to make sure we’re providing the equity for our black and white students, our students of color and all students in general,” Jones said. “We’re going to look at the glaring discrepancies that exist between black and white students that exist even presently in some of our long standing magnet school programs.”

While school board members called the process to get to this point effective and transparent, some parents at the meeting described it as confusing, complicated and not as open as they would have liked. Boe Clark told the board he’s skeptical.

“There’s distrust that’s morphed into complete frustration with this plan,” Clark said. “Parents made it clear all along that they want strong hood schools. It’s incumbent on this board to clearly define success metrics and provide evidence of success early and often. You need to define how you plan to determine success in this and also failure.”

Under the plan the district will have three transportation zones instead of the current four to open up magnet school choices to a wider group of students. The board also approved changes to some magnet programs, including a full Montessori Secondary Magnet at J.T. Williams, moving the Marie G. Davis High School’s military academy to Hawthorne Academy and establishing a K-8 magnet program at Davis. The changes take effect for next school year. The board now moves to a student assignment plan for neighborhood schools that would take effect in the fall of 2018. 

Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.