The Jefferson County Board of Education has unanimously approved of changes to its student assignment plan for the 2012-2013 school year. The new plan includes kindergarten and English as a Second Language students in its diversity count.
The new student assignment plan uses updated census data and a new diversity index to measure where a student falls in the diversity guideline. It defines a students’ diversity by their census block and then applies that to the available schools in the student’s geographical cluster, making sure no school falls above or below a certain diversity level.
The plan keeps the current six clusters the district uses to transport students, going against UCLA professor Gary Orfield’s proposed 13 clusters. Board chair Steve Imhoff said more clusters would likely cut down ride times even more, but was willing to acknowledge the changes were progress.
“I’m going to vote for this. I’m not happy with these six clusters but I’m happy with doing this now for kindergarten,” he said.
JCPS staff still expects to cut bus ride times for some nearly 2,000 elementary school students under the new plan, but several board members say the district should continue searching for a more permanent solution that can include all grade levels and the entire district.
“I’ve seen the data. I’ve seen the maps. And like my colleagues I appreciate all the hard work you all have done. I understand that more students will have the opportunity to stay closer to home, but not all of them,” said board member Larry Hujo.
Going forward, parents of kindergarten students will apply once on behalf of their children. Their students will remain at that their school until fifth grade. Parents and guardians will have the chance to talk with teachers and JCPS staff at the elementary showcase on Jan 28. Applications for elementary school students are being accepted beginning Feb. 1.
The district expects to present the board with a new plan that can apply to all grade levels, including magnet schools, in the spring. If approved, that plan would be implemented in the 2013-2014 school year.