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Clark Takes Student Assignment Questions On Facebook Live

CMS Superintendent Ann Clark (R) answers questions about proposed student assignment plan on FaceBook

Complicated and conservative is how some are describing the student assignment plan CMS officials unveiled at Tuesday night’s school board meeting. Superintendent Ann Clark took questions about the proposed plan Wednesday during a Facebook Live discussion.

Many of the questions parents and others asked centered around specific schools. If approved 75 schools would be affected—some more than others. For instance, Superintendent Clark explained during the live chat that Ranson Middle School students would not be spread out so much once they graduate. Now they feed into four high schools. Under her proposal, they would go to only two, Hopewell and West Charlotte.

She also pointed to Sedgefield Middle School as an example of changes for the better. She says the plan would allow those students to attend a school closer to them, Marie G. Davis.

“We have a group of students who have never attended that school before and yet they could walk to Marie G. Davis, so a change we created was a home school attendance boundary for Marie G. Davis, so students and families in that immediate neighborhood for the first time in 20 years have an opportunity to attend that school without having to go through the magnet process to do so,” Clark said.

The proposed plan also calls for some elementary schools, such as Billingsville and Cotswold to be paired, so the students would spend their kindergarten through second grades at one school and third through fifth grades at the other. Another change, would add about 2,000 magnet program seats in 2018, mainly by creating partial magnets at low-performing schools. A few full magnet programs would be downsized to partial to open up more seats for neighborhood schools. Alyssa Wood of Davidson has attended student assignment meetings.

“Our daughter has been in magnet programs with CMS since third grade and she’s in seventh this year and all of the magnets that she has attended have been partial magnets and that has worked in our experience,” Wood said.

Although the topic of diversity was not raised much during the Facebook discussion, it’s sure to be during upcoming public hearings and community meetings. Reducing the number of schools with high concentrations of low-income students is one of the major goals that was supposed to guide the student assignment overhaul. But according to the newly-released plan, social economic diversity will improve in only 21 of the affected schools. 

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.