CPS to discuss elementary attendance areas in focus groups

2 months 3 weeks 4 days ago Tuesday, July 07 2020 Jul 7, 2020 Tuesday, July 07, 2020 5:23:00 PM CDT July 07, 2020 in News
By: Peyton Headlee, KOMU 8 News & Jasmine Lotts, KOMU 8 News
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COLUMBIA — The CPS Board of Education is holding four virtual meetings on Wednesday to review elementary attendance areas. 

According to the press release, the goal of the meetings is to determine if there are attendance areas that may need to be readdressed because of population growth. 

This comes after the CPS Board of Education approved new attendance areas for middle and high schools earlier this year. 

Brooke Danielsen is the mother of an incoming first grader. She submitted her name for the focus groups, but was not selected. However, she said she still plans on sharing her feedback with CPS. 

"I think that the demographics both racially and socioeconomically of elementary schools in a town like Columbia are incredibly important to the culture of our city and for the equity of education for our students," Danielsen said.

She said she lives two blocks away from her son's elementary school, but would drive farther away for a more diverse environment for students. 

"I would totally be willing to drive my child further away if that meant there was more equity in the city," Danielsen said. "I would be willing to give that up and I hope other parents would be willing to give that up if it meant more equitable PTA dollars, if it would mean that children would grow up in more diverse environments."

She said she hopes there will be more opportunities for parents to provide feedback to the board. 

According to the press release, the CPS Board of Education has set guiding principles for the discussion. 

Here are the established principles, verbatim from the release:

  • Attendance areas do change and will continue to change. This work is part of a regular review of district enrollment patterns.

  • The attendance area should anticipate the future growth of neighborhoods. A walkable and bikeable school is important, but may not always be possible.

  • The attendance area seeks to reflect the composition of the Columbia Public Schools community.

  • The board recognizes the power of a school to create community. Accessibility for families is important (volunteering and attending school functions are easier when the school is near).

  • Consider time students spend on a bus and distance traveled to and from school.

  • Consider attendance areas boundary lines that follow natural/man-made boundaries.

  • Consider a transfer policy that allows 5th graders to remain at their previous school and policies that allow siblings to remain.

To participate in the focus groups, community members needed to submit their names to the Board of Education by June 24. From there, participants were selected at random. The focus groups will be held virtually and run from 9 a.m. until 6:15 p.m.

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