School board votes for zoning, delays talks on honors class cuts
By Jim Hagerty
The Rockford Board of Education voted 5-2 Tuesday, Nov. 23, in favor of zoning–changing where elementary students will attend school for the 2011-2012 academic year.
The vote came after a lengthy study that included parent surveys, focus groups and open houses. The board was presented with three school assignment proposals, including one to keep the current school of choice system in place.
A hybrid model containing features of the current system and of the neighborhood plan was also presented. However, that model was not favored by residents.
Study findings showed some west-side residents were satisfied with the current elementary school system, while others, namely those who live in the eastern part of Rockford, prefer neighborhood schools.
Board members who voted for the new plan said a neighborhood elementary school system would allow single-parent families to assist each other more if their children attended the same schools.
The board also cited the plan would save the district approximately $4 million in busing costs.
Board members Bob Evans, Jude Makulec, Harmon Mitchell, President David Kelley and Alice Saudargas voted for the plan. Lisa Jackson and Jeanne Westholder voted against it.
Jackson said a neighborhood elementary school model will promote segregation.
“Separate but equal is a thing of the past,” Jackson said. “It’s time to embrace diversity and equality.”
Board delays talks about cutting district honors classes
A resolution to stop current discussions about cutting honors classes was entered Tuesday to give the board more time to mull the matter.
School officials recently proposed cutting District 205 Advanced Placement and honors classes because of budget concerns. Evans called the reasoning a “slap in the face” to the school board.
“Neither we, nor the community had been prepared for this decision,” Evans said.
The board is scheduled to hear a presentation on the matter Dec. 14.
Superintendent Dr. LaVonne M. Sheffield was was not present Tuesday. Chief Communications Officer Mark Bonne said Sheffield was tending to a family issue and will return Monday, Nov. 29.
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