There's been some questions about what the school board discussed Tuesday about changes to the magnet selection criteria.
Click here for the handout that lists the questions the board was asked to answer by staff. Even though they delayed acting on options two and three, it wasn't without some heated argument.
School board member Lori Millberg was the most vocal about changing the process to make sure magnet schools are recruiting from "the right schools."
"Some of these schools are getting kids from schools with higher concentrations of poverty," Millberg said. "We want to say you can’t do that. You can be out there recruiting but we don’t want you to recruit from those schools."
Millberg argued that allowing the last 10 percent of seats to be filled randomly was ineffective at limiting acceptance of kids from schools that can't afford to lose them.
For instance, Millberg said that Eastern Wake families have learned how to work the magnet system even though they're applying from high F&R schools that should limit them to the 10 percent pool.
Millberg said Eastern Wake families are applying to magnet schools that don't have as many applicants. This means they'd run out of applicants from the "right schools" when filling the first 90 percent of seats, forcing them to dip into the bottom pool sooner.
Once accepted at a magnet elementary school, these kids move through the system up through high school.
School board member Beverley Clark questioned the value of putting a cap on the percentage of kids who could leave nodes or schools. She said that in some cases they want a lot of kids to leave those places.
Clark noted the changes that had been made to increase the bases at some magnet schools and to reduce the number of magnet seats. It should raise the F&R rates at those magnet schools.
Additionally, the draw areas have been revised for several magnet schools.
“We’ve made a number of changes and have to see what the consequences are," Clark said.
Staff will report back in the spring on the impact options two and three would have on the district. They could be implemented next year.
BTW, you'll also notice that the board was asked to decide about Partnership Elementary School. The board decided not to make a decision yet on whether Partnership should be formally considered a magnet school.
But the board agreed that families from Partnership will be given pathway priority to get into Moore Square Middle School.
Partnership has had an unusual history. It was set up in the 1990s by then Supt. Jim Surratt as an example of how the school system could operate a school with the same flexibility as a charter school.
Complaints among board members have risen that Partnership has too low an F&R percentage.
Partnership accepted applications randomly until last year, when it was formally incorporated into the magnet application process with the same magnet selection criteria. Still, it wasn't considered a magnet school.
Asst. Supt. Chuck Dulaney said that some Partnership parents had been upset last year when their magnet applications for Moore Square and Centennial Campus middle schools were rejected. Families had applied because they all operated on the modified calendar.
Dulaney explained that they in the past had been able to get the Partnership families into those two middle schools when there were few magnet applicants.