Bright and early this morning, the three-member Special Committee on Admissions, Attendance and Boundaries (Kerry Hamill, Gary Yee and Chris Dobbins) unanimously agreed that the district should give the younger siblings of current students top admissions priority — regardless of where they live — followed by neighborhood children who don’t have a brother or sister enrolled at the school.
The committee agreed that third priority should go to children within a middle school “megaboundary” (See Page 2 of the document; Page 1 is another kind of megaboundary, the one I mentioned earlier) who didn’t get into their neighborhood elementary schools. Kids who were turned away from Hillcrest, a K-8 school whose overcrowding crisis apparently triggered this committee’s work, would fall into the Claremont Middle School/North Oakland “megaboundary” for elementary enrollment purposes as of 2009.
All of this, of course, would make it harder for children in Program Improvement schools, and everyone else, to get into elementary schools outside their megaboundary.
This doesn’t seem to bode well for the school choice, parents-will-vote-with-their-feet philosophy, at least in parts of the city with growing enrollment.
Yee said the new language, if approved by the full board on June 11 June 25, will help to clarify the district’s priorities and set the tone for future boundary changes and fixes for overcrowding. On paper, the current School Options policy embraces two values that are often at odds — school choice and neighborhood schools — but some families have complained that it doesn’t do either.
Here’s what the committee thinks the district should “value” when considering who goes to what schools, in order of importance:
1) keeping families together; 2) creating strong neighborhood schools; 3) preserving diversity
Yee told me after the meeting that the district’s current enrollment policies heavily value “parent choice.” He said he and his colleagues on the committee believe it should instead be about “what’s best for the family, what’s best for the neighborhood, and what’s best for the city.”
Do you agree?