JCPS Board of Education evaluates requested changes to student assignment plan

Cara Burch

On September 12, the JCPS Board of Education met with Dr. Gary Orfield to discuss changes Dr. Orfield felt were necessary to the student assignment plan, based on an investigation conducted by Orfield and his research team.

As a result of this research, Dr. Orfield suggested to the board that there should be no changes made to the current middle and high school plan – only to the elementary school student assignment plan. The main issue discussed was how the board could achieve the necessary level of diversity in some Jefferson County elementary schools while helping to significantly reduce the bus riding time to and from school.

“We found that it was possible to think about sending people to integrated schools that were closer to home,” Orfield said. “We had to put in data from all 540 neighborhoods into a computer program and try to figure out what of all these millions of combinations would bring the best results in integration and the lowest price in terms of transportation.”

“I have a son in kindergarten, and he was assigned to a school in his cluster 15 miles away from home,” said Angela Beatty, a parent of a kindergartener. “However, if I kept him in the assigned school and let him ride the bus, he would leave home at 7:15 and not return until after 5:30. This means homework, dinner, bath and straight to bed in order to get him to bed by 8:00. How can a parent be a good parent if they only see their child for two hours a day? How can a child be successful if they get no downtime or play time?” she said.

In addition to discussing elementary school improvements, Orfield said that the current transportation system for magnet schools in Jefferson County seemed to be working but was to be reevaluated next year. 

Many Manual students who take the bus to and from school would be affected if they could not be transported to school by bus. Some students would even have to transfer from Manual to their home school. 

“If I couldn’t ride the bus I would have to go to Atherton and ride my bike to and from school,” Frances Roorda (9) said. “It would be really inconvenient if the school board stopped bus transportation for magnet schools because of the people who need to ride the bus here but want a good education.” 

As a Sophomore at DuPont Manual High School, Cara takes part in many extracurricular activities to include Varsity Policy Debate, French Scrabble, and Varsity Tennis. As a part of the Communications Magnet, Cara enjoys writing in all formats and plans on pursuing a major in Political Science and minor in Journalism once she reaches upper-level education, in addition to attending law school.