Happy New Year! I’m back from the two-state family holiday tour, trying to catch up on what I missed while I was away. Please fill me in.
In my haste to finish up my work before leaving town, I didn’t have time to post an entry about the postponed school board decision on the proposed boundary changes at Hillcrest, Montclair and Chabot schools — or about the fact that board members promised to take a serious look at the district’s enrollment policies for the 2009-10 school year.
Right now, under Oakland’s School Options program, neighborhood children with older siblings at the local school have top priority, followed by other neighborhood kids; those who live outside of the local attendance zone whose older siblings attend the school; those who live near low-performing schools; and then everyone else, by lottery.
But as neighborhood demand increases for the city’s highest-performing schools – many of which are located in affluent areas – it is becoming increasingly difficult for families to opt into one of those schools unless they can afford a home inside its attendance boundaries.
What changes, if any, do you think the board should consider as they re-examine OUSD’s enrollment policies? Should neighborhood children always have top priority, or is the school system ethically (and legally) responsible for reserving spots for children who live near low-performing schools?
Here is the board resolution that school board member Kerry Hamill read at the last board meeting:
A clear and transparent enrollment process is essential for all families.
Board policies which drive the current enrollment and assignments through the options process are currently being reviewed by a board subcommittee with district staff to ensure that they fully reflect the goals and objectives of the newly empowered school board.
The process of modifying OUSD boundaries should be tabled until Spring, 2008 to give the School board and staff time to reach consensus on board policy related to enrollment, boundaries, the district’s open enrollment process and the city’s need to be certain that we ensure access to a quality education to all of our students.
With these factors in mind, I move that the board postpone a decision regarding a boundary change for the Hillcrest K-8 school attendance area until the conclusion of the board’s work reviewing its current enrollment policy, and that the issue of overcrowding and enrollment issues at Hillcrest and potentially other Oakland schools return to the board for future consideration not later than April, 2008.
During the intervening months, staff and members of the school board will conduct meetings with the Hillcrest, Chabot, Montclair, Kaiser and all other school communities potentially affected by the overcrowding to review future enrollment projections and other factors which may arise.
During the intervening months, the district should assess and explore any and all alternatives which could allow an increase of the supply of K-8 spaces in North Oakland, and possibly expand the number of students who may attend Hillcrest Elementary School.
For the 2008-2009 school year, all families within any OUSD overcrowded attendance area not placed at their home school will be redirected through the district open enrollment process to their next closest neighboring school.
image from dospaz’s Web site at flickr.com