That, the district argues, would let
students and their parents decide which schools they wish to
patronize. There are some indications, based on past experience
with employing the state's public school choice law, that the
school closest to home isn't necessarily the first choice, Red
Clay officials maintain.
More to the point, simply returning
to a traditional closest-school assignment plan and feeder
system would not work, the district maintains.
are insufficient seats in [some] elementary schools to
accommodate the number of students for whom that is the closest
school," the district said in a concise three-page plan
officially made public on Sept. 10, although the gist of the
plan has been known for several months.
middle school level, H.B. du Pont would be only two-thirds full
while A.I. du Pont would have an enrollment twice its capacity
as the result of strict compliance with the law, the plan said.
which was drafted in-house by the district administration,
is to be the subject of public hearings on Sept. 13 and 19 at
Warner Elementary School and on Sept.. 12 and 25 and Oct. 17 at
Brandywine Springs Elementary. The hearings all begin at 7 p.m.
The district school board is scheduled to vote on the plan on
Oct. 17, in plenty of time to get it to Dover to meet the law's
Nov. 15 deadline.
basically argues that the present alignment of schools is
incompatible with the population distribution in the district.
If the district can move ahead with building two elementary
schools, however, it would be in a position to make all
elementary schools kindergarten through fifth grade, as the law
requires, and allow virtually all, if not all, parents and
students to attend whatever district school they choose.
turned down a proposal to authorize a bond issue enabling the
district to raise the local share of the cost of building those
schools -- in Stanton and near Hockessin. District officials
have said they intend to try again but, so far, apparently have
not determined when.
arrangement would get away from the traditional method of
assigning children to schools while allowing them to go
elsewhere only as exceptions to the general rule. The General
Assembly a few years ago enacted a law which permits
students and parents to choose to attend any public school in
the state. Acceptances depends on their been space available in
the school which is chosen.
Red Clay's desire to go all-choice will fly with the state board
and the Assembly remains to be seen. The Neighborhood Schools
Act presupposes that a majority of students will go to schools
by traditional assignment. In enacting the law, legislators saw
it as a way to put an end to busing in the four northern New
Castle County districts to which it applies. Somewhat
simplistically, the alternative was seen to be going back to the
old system of having children attend schools in their respective
plan, however, Red Clay maintains that the closest school isn't
always the one students and their parents want to patronize.
submitted with the plan indicate that, of the 518
elementary-school students who submitted choice applications
but did not get into the school of first choice, 125 sought to
go to the geographically nearest school but 393 sought to go to
a more distant school.
high school level, where enrollment has been under the choice
plan for several years, all students who apply on time get their
first choice. The result, according to the plan, is that they
are where they want to be, whether or not that is the school
closest to their home.
require the district to assign elementary-school children to the
nearest school "would result in 1,300 students not being so
assigned, a far more detrimental consequence than the current
system, where fewer than one-half of that number is affected,"
the plan declares.
middle school level, all but six students who opted to do so are
attending the school closest to their homes and those six are
going to one only slightly farther away.
notes that under school choice, middle schools range from 27% to
70% 'minority' enrollment and high schools between 26% and 44%.
With closest-to-home assignment, those ranges would change to
from fewer than 10% to 86% in middle schools and from 5% to 67%
in the high schools. 'Minority' refers to black and Hispanic
The law specifically bans race as a
factor in determining student assignments.