The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board released a two-year schedule for student assignment decisions Tuesday, with magnet lotteries revised for 2017-18 and boundaries reviewed for 2018-19.
“We lead with people moving toward something they are excited about,” Superintendent Ann Clark said. “We’re leading with choice.”
The timeline provides a glimpse of a phased-in approach that earlier discussions have hinted at. The first phase, which has been the focus of most discussions in recent weeks, involves revising the magnet lottery to help diversify schools based on socioeconomic status. Any policy changes related to that will come up for a vote in November and take effect in 2017-18.
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That means CMS staff, and ultimately the school board, need to define socioeconomic status and its role magnet admissions. “Certainly we know family income is one variable,” said Assistant Superintendent Akeshia Craven-Howell, one of the CMS administrators leading the review.
The second phase was described as “high school feeder patterns,” a term Clark and Craven-Howell say includes a review of boundaries and transportation for neighborhood schools. Discussions on that phase are slated to start in August, with a vote in summer 2017.
Craven-Howell said the second phase is more complicated because it potentially affects everyone. Magnets serve only about 20 percent of students and participation is optional.
The district’s student assignment consultants, Michael Alves, John Brittain and Richard Kahlenberg, made their first public appearance at Tuesday’s board meeting. They will provide updates at the second board meeting of each month.
The district’s $135,000 contract with the Massachusetts-based Alves Educational Consultants Group runs through the end of 2016, which will cover the launch of the second phase, Craven-Howell said.
The board has been working on its student assignment review since 2015. The board has approved guidelines that call for preserving the basics of the current system – neighborhood-based assignments with options for magnets and other alternative settings – while using socioeconomic status to reduce concentrations of school poverty.