District 205 examines student assignment options
From press release
A 63-page report released Sept. 13 contains the opinions of parents, staff and community members regarding student assignment options in Rockford Public Schools. The report was compiled by an outside consultant hired through a federal grant and will form the basis for a continued analysis of the current process and possible alternatives for assigning elementary students to schools.
The report, available online at rps205.com, contains the tabulated responses of 364 survey participants to 40 multiple-choice questions. Survey responses, gathered in April, May and June, reflect a difference of opinion between those who cite transportation costs and declining revenues as reasons they favor a zoned system that assigns students based on where they live and those who prefer the current system because of concerns that a return to a neighborhood concept would re-segregate the system and result in costly litigation and distract from the academic needs of children.
At the elementary level, the current assignment system allows for parental choice of schools and places students using a computerized lottery. Students are currently assigned to middle school and high schools based on attendance zones.
The report calls for a broader survey of community sentiment through a series of open houses being planned for October. More specific input would be gathered around three primary scenarios:
1. Retaining the status quo choice system for elementary school assignment;
2. Transitioning to traditional elementary school zones; or
3. Using a cluster system combining the features of choice and zones.
No local funding is involved in the study, and the U.S. Department of Education grant of $213,000 does not prescribe a specific outcome or policy change.
Rockford was one of 10 school districts nationally to receive a Technical Assistance for Student Assignment Plans (TASAP) grant. A full report containing all data collected as part of the TASAP grant is expected to be presented to the Rockford Board of Education in November.
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