for some last minute tweaking of the wording in the resolution
by which the action was taken at its meeting on Oct. 17, the
plan is essentially what the district administration presented
in early September. The only significant difference is that the
final version provides that students who do not follow the
procedure for choosing the school they want to attend will be
assigned, after those of do choose are placed, to the school
closest to their home which has room for them.
for the Red Clay approach is that allowing everyone in the
district to choose their schools means that those who want to go
to the closest school will be able to do so while those for whom
the closest school is not the one they favor -- whether as a
matter of convenience or for some other reason -- also will be
district officials maintain that ability to grant their first
choice of school to everyone will require that at least one and
possibly two new schools be built. Voters earlier this year
turned down a bid to float bonds to finance the local cost of an
extensive capital program which included new schools in Stanton
and near Hockessin.
resolution voted by the board on Oct. 17 notes that "an additional
elementary school must be built to accommodate students who
reside in the northwest quadrant of the district where there are
no neighborhood schools." That presumably refers just to the
proviso calls for "state-funded transportation" for 'choice'
students. The state's public school choice law presently
requires that students not attending the school to which they
are assigned using traditional attendance zones must provide
their own transportation. Red Clay pays for some, but not all,
such transportation with local funds.
president William Manning said a choice program is "meaningless"
without a transportation component because, as a practical
matter, poorer students are unable to take advantage of it.
who spoke at the meeting said that the existing choice-law
arrangement in the district has produced a strange situation.
She said she lives on a suburban street where her child and two
others are the only elementary-school students. The parents got
together and submitted choice applications so the children could
go to school together only to receive their first, second and
third choices, respectively. As a result, three school buses now
stop at the street to pick up one child apiece and take them to
separate schools, she said.
that, as a result of poor communications in the district,
none of the parents were aware that because nearby Mote
Elementary had added a third grade all three families had the
option of receiving preference in choosing to attend that school
because they live in the 'historic feeder pattern' for its
no debate nor substantive discussion of the resolution during
the public meeting. A school administrator had distributed a few
copies of the final revised version of the resolution just
before the open session. An earlier version had been available
as attenders entered the Brandywine Springs Elementary School
auditorium, where the meeting was held. Following its normal practice, the
board held a closed-door executive session before the public session.
It is not known whether the resolution was discussed and revised
event, board vice president Irwin Becnel noted that the location
of schools and distribution of population is such that Red Clay
"cannot meet the exact requirements of the Neighborhood Schools
Act [because] we don't have the classrooms."
said he finds it ironic that people are objecting to the
district's choice arrangement on the grounds that it will foster
racial resegregation. Inability to attend schools where they
wanted their children to go was the underlying motive for black
parents to file the suits which led to both the desegregation of
Delaware public schools and the landmark Brown vs. Board of
Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, he noted.
surprises me is criticism which now said giving people a choice
is a bad thing," he said.
action, the Red Clay board granted the district an option from
the state mandated limit of 22 students in kindergarten through
third grade classes. The board was told that 79 classes, or
about 30% of those in the district, do not meet that limit.