School Choice

By: Amy Morris
By: Amy Morris

It may only be January, but parents, it's time to start planning for next school year. While School Choice may work for middle and high schoolers, it's the elementary schools that are struggling to attract students from outside the neighborhood.

Bay District Schools started the School Choice Program to eliminate minority student busing, but does it really work, or are parents locking themselves into a neighborhood school and voluntary segregation?

Millville Elementary, like Cedar Grove and a few other neighborhood schools, is a diverse community.

Shirley Ramsey, Millville Elementary Principal, says, "It enriches our school to have so many people to bring their backgrounds to us to learn more about them and working with them."

But just down the road Patterson Elementary struggles to attract white students. Patterson has 71 percent minorities, the highest in the county, and is under a court order requiring every school age child in that zone to attend that school, despite Patterson's D grade, while Southport Elementary has only seven minority students in the entire school.

"If you stay in your neighborhood and go to your neighborhood school in your zone then sometimes you know you may not have as diverse a population at some schools that you have in others."

Parents overwhelmingly support School Choice, however, educators say the bottom line is the more diverse a school population, the more diverse your child's education will be, and that can only be a good thing.

School Choice open enrollment runs the entire month of February. If you choose a school outside of your zone you are responsible for getting your child to and from that school.

County schools already at capacity, as most of the A schools are, cannot accept out-of-zone students.


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