Race, economic diversity important to parents at new high school forums

Thursday, October 16, 2008 | 8:12 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Race and economic diversity of a school's population matters more to community members than their children staying with the same group of peers from kindergarten through graduation, according to parents who attended community forums held Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

The comments were directed to the secondary enrollment planning committee, a 25-member group responsible for recommending boundary changes to incorporate the third comprehensive Columbia public high school, slated to open in August 2010. The committee also handles reorganizing school structure so grades 6 through 8 attend middle schools and grades 9 through 12 attend high schools.

Mark Blount, a teacher at Hickman High School, asked on Tuesday and Wednesday night how the committee plans to manage diversity among the three high schools while simultaneously trying to keep students together from kindergarten through graduation. 

"Balance is more important than keeping kids together with their friends," Blount said. "Perhaps moving (to a different school) makes for a more well-rounded kid. Breaking up classes to make new friends and have new experiences is important."

This year's second-grade students will be the first class to experience the full effects of the decisions made by the committee. Students now enrolled in eighth grade or higher will not be affected by regrouping of grades or the new high school.

The first phase of the transition plan places 250 ninth-grade students in the new high school when it opens in 2010. An additional 250 ninth-graders will be added in 2011, for a total of 500 students. In both 2012 and 2013, 500 ninth-graders will be added, for a total of 1,500 students.

On Tuesday, Wanda Brown, assistant superintendent for secondary education, assured parents the programming and academic offerings at the new school will be similar to those offered at Rock Bridge and Hickman High schools. Academic offerings will expand as the student body grows, Brown said.

Additionally, she spoke of how the students would benefit from attending a smaller school.

"There are good quality small schools," Brown said. "It will allow students to go out for things they might not have done so in a large school since there aren't so many people competing for the spots."

Numerous parents have asked for specifics about which middle and high school their child would attend, but the committee was unable to provide that information. Ludwig said the committee will start working on who goes to what school in late December or early January. Final recommendations will be presented to the school board in May.

All forums are held from 7 to 9 p.m. in each school's media center: Tuesday at West Junior High School, Wednesday at Jefferson Junior High School and Thursday at Oakland Junior High School.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Ted Vaughan October 17, 2008 | 8:52 a.m.

There is a relatively easy way to accommodate both wishes; realign Middle School or Junior High boundaries to insure diversity, then have those schools feed specific high schools. This will not only maintain the bonds that are formed at these earlier ages, but more importantly, facilitate vertical alignment between grades for instructional purposes.

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.