Members of the Board,
The People’s Alliance Education Action Team urges the BOE to wait to approve the new proposed academic application programs and elementary school boundaries. We believe the regional model presented to the Board has many strengths, including a clear focus on equity and efficiency. The 30+% mileage reduction is no small feat, and we know parents and children will appreciate shorter bus rides. We also appreciate the increased access to magnet programs, especially in currently under-served communities such as the Eastern Region which has no magnet programs at the moment.
However, we believe the model still needs the following adjustments before approval is appropriate:
- Consider moving one of the district-wide magnets to the Eastern Region to improve equity.
- Target engagement with stakeholders in school communities that are losing existing special programs, even if alternate programming has been proposed for those schools (R.N. Harris, Bethesda, Lakewood, W.G. Pearson, and Club Boulevard).
- Develop and release a detailed legacy policy so parents understand how each of their children will be affected.
- Analyze costs associated with continuing special programs at R.N. Harris, Bethesda, and Lakewood if communities express a desire to do so.
- Clarify how the new regional approach to programming will coexist with the community schools model that has been successful in two highly impacted schools (Club Boulevard and Lakewood).
While we believe the proposed regional map is a good starting point, addressing the above concerns might require some tweaking of the map to prevent overcrowding at some schools and under enrollment at others. Because of this, we ask the Board to delay voting on this proposal until no later than October 2022 to maintain the current implementation timeline.
We appreciate the effort and expertise of the talented DPS staff who developed the Growing Together initiative. We share their vision of a more efficient and equitable school system for all children in Durham. Regardless of timeline, we urge the Board to consider the above pressing issues before implementing the current plan.
Vanessa Barnett-Loro and Jenny Jones Coldren
on behalf of the People's Alliance Education Action Team