The question on the minds of a lot of people is whether the new school board will live up to campaign promises about neighborhood schools, year-round schools and ending the diversity policy.
Some people are anxiously hoping for the changes to come while others are dreading the future. But as noted in today's article, the new board members aren't sure yet how they'll turn their promises into reality so they're urging parents to give them some time.
"We haven't had neighborhood schools in such a long time that we have to see what we have in our neighborhoods," said new board member Deborah Prickett.
The fact of the matter is that parents are clamoring for answers, especially those whose kids attend magnet schools. While all the new board members say they want to keep magnet schools, what's not clear is how they'd co-exist in a system of neighborhood schools.
Right now, thousands of children are bused out of the areas around the magnet schools into the suburbs. Their departure makes it possible for the suburban students to attend as magnet applicants.
If you return all these base kids, how do you find room for the magnet students?
One possible scenario took place in Charlotte-Meckleknburg, which had to figure out what to do with all the neighborhood kids when busing for diversity was abandoned. Some schools lost their magnet programs to be able to accommodate the returning students.
Laura Brooks, an Enloe High magnet parent, said the magnet community is gearing up now and will be demanding answers.
School board member Ron Margiotta, who could join the new board members to form the new ruling majority, said magnet parents don't need to worry about major changes for the 2010-11 school year. But he wouldn't say the same thing for any future years.
Even if no major changes are made in 2010-11, what about the magnet/calendar lottery that takes place in February? The new board members aren't saying yet whether they'd leave the current diversity-based selection criteria in place or will switch to a pure random lottery.
Also speaking of the 2010-11 school year, what about the plans now in place to fill four new schools, including three new year-round schools. Will board members who say they're against mandatory year-round leave in place plans to assign students to those new schools?
As for the existing year-round schools, Margiotta said they might want to survey parents to see which schools have support for converting back to a traditional calendar.
School board chairman Kevin Hill said it's not realistic for the new board members to think they can have staff develop a new plan to switch to neighborhood schools in 2010. He said there's not enough time for staff to draw up such a sweeping plan, get public comment and have a plan adopted on such a short timeframe.
"It would be difficult for staff to rewrite a three-year plan in 10 weeks," Hill said. "Parents wanted the school board to be responsive to their needs. They didn't want annual reassignments so the system put together a three-year plan. Parents asked for stability for assignments."
While the old board members ask for time, you can expect them to try to get the new board members to come over to their side.