members on Tuesday expanded the district's schools of choice program, and one parent's concerns may lead to additional changes.
Dr. Michele Harmala said after reviewing enrollment projections, the district's Schools of Choice committee recommended the following changes:
- Opening kindergarten for intra-district schools of choice in all buildings except , which is currently the district's only schools of choice option
- Opening additional kindergarten seats to open enrollment of staff members' children, and then to families in any district that participates in the Section 105 open enrollment option, with the number of Section 105 spaces announced in mid-June
- Opening a number of grade 9 seats at and High Schools equal to the number of 9th graders from those schools enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program at as of April 30, first to intra-district students, then employees' children and Section 105 students if spaces are available
- Closing open enrollment at Harrison High
Parent Debbie Chasnick asked officials to consider also opening up spaces for this year's 9th graders, who would be 10th graders next year, based on the number of 9th grade seats that were open at North and Farmington this year.
Board member Howard Wallach agreed with Chasnick and asked Supt. Sue Zurvalec to look at the district's enrollment data and "bring back some solid information, so we can be clear with our families."
"I do think we should be clear with the public that there won't necessarily be room for everybody who wants to change," said board member Priscilla Brouillette, who also favored the idea.
Parent Sharon Bussell wanted to see data collected since she first brought concerns about Section 105 open enrollment to the board in 2003. She said the district could incur additional costs if children with special needs come in from outside the district, and the district would be likely to draw children from other districts who need help, which could affect adequate yearly progress, a measurement of standardized testing required by the federal government.
"If you're going to do this, you'd better get community input," she said.
Harmala said the district's policy is to open seats first to students within the district and then to employees' students. Section 105 students would only be allowed if any seats remain.
Recommendations include holding a community meeting to gather input about declining enrollment and Schools of Choice, sometime at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, then recommending policy changes, she said.
The Schools of Choice recommendations were approved on a 5-1 vote; board member Murray Kahn, who opposed the motion, said he shared Bussell's concerns.