Montessori questions arise
Busing: The Guilford district could spend as much as $509,000 this school year to transport students to opt-out schools outside their attendance zones if their neighborhood school is a magnet school they don’t want to attend. There are 5,700 students attending classes at 17 elementary and 10 middle magnet school programs.
Options: Providing alternate schools was required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act if a magnet school also was a Title I, or low performing, school. North Carolina was granted an exemption this year.
BY DAVID NIVENS
ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
HIGH POINT – Following their decision earlier this month to limit bus service for magnet schools next year to save money, Guilford County Schools officials want to take another look at the Triangle Lake Montessori School program.
Several parents have lobbied the Board of Education to keep the dedicated magnet at Triangle Lake. The Montessori method is based on child-centered activity in the arts and sciences designed to encourage student involvement, autonomy and risk-taking.
“The Montessori method is different than the other magnets,” parent Charlotte Edwards of Jamestown told the board recently. “Moving kids into the higher grades is difficult and it can be difficult for them to learn.”
Triangle Lake has been a “pure” Montessori school since 2006. New neighborhood students above second grade must attend an alternate school. Most go to Colfax and Union Hill elementaries. Washington Street Montessori in Greensboro accepts students through sixth grade. Last week, the board postponed a staff report on Montessori magnet schools.
“I do not understand the difference between the programs,” said outgoing board member Kris Cooke. “Please look at this. Students should be able to go to their neighborhood school.”
Board member Darlene Garrett suggested creating a survey to ask parents if they want to send their children to go to Triangle Lake.
Board members Ed Price and Carlvena Foster, both of High Point, support the Triangle Lake attendance policy. Foster said that most parents in the Triangle Lake neighborhood don’t want their kids to attend the Montessori school because they don’t consider it structured enough.
“Why do we have to change?” Price said.
For years, the school system has allowed parents to send their children to traditional schools if they did not like schools with special themes. The change next year, aimed at saving more than $200,000, will apply to all magnet schools except Triangle Lake in High Point and Washington Montessori, Peeler Open Elementary and Hampton Academy in Greensboro where programs differ dramatically from traditional schools. There are as many as 380 seats for students at alternate schools. The school district would continue to provide bus transportation for families who don’t want their children to attend the four schools.