School board reviews map for planning future school zones

Model would level crowded and under-utilized schools
Sep. 30, 2013 @ 06:38 PM

Guilford County Schools staff presented the Board of Education with a new way to draw school boundary lines at its fall retreat on Saturday.
The computer-based model was not adopted by the board or really even considered as a sole option to draw boundary lines for school attendance zones.
Donna Bell, director of planning for GCS, presented maps for elementary, middle and high schools that are intended to inform and guide future assignment decisions.
The model only calculated non-magnet students. It did not account for student enrolled in special programs, like academies or performing arts, or early or middle college. It also did not include the mobile unit capacities at each school or schools with no attendance zones.
Bell and her team used the computer model to make better use of existing schools that may be under-utilized or make space at schools that are over capacity. The model sends students to the closest school with available capacity.
T. Wingate Andrews, the most under-utilized high school in the district, is 63 percent full this school year. After using the computer model to “optimize” the school’s attendance boundary, the school would be at 113 percent. High Point Central would maintain its 100 percent enrollment before and after the model. Southwest would go from 87 percent to 90 percent, and Ragsdale would go from 88 percent to 99 percent occupied.
Welborn, the most under-untilized middle school in the district, is 43 percent full this school year and after optimization, would be 99 percent.
Bell said the model does not use racial or socioeconomic data. GCS counsel, Jill Wilson, said that the use of race data to draw school boundaries is being litigated. So if board members were to take on drawing boundaries, they may not be able to use race data.
Triangle Lake Montessori is the High Point school with the lowest number of non-magnet students enrolled at 48 percent. The boundary optimization map would put it at 100 percent capacity.
The board members said they thought the information the computer model gave was very important to have when and if they start looking at redrawing school attendance zones.
jhowse@hpe.com | 888-3617