School Assignments in Limbo

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

School attendance zones are still a possiblity in Rockford for the '07-'08 school year, but so is school choice. Rockford's middle- and high-schoolers will have to wait in limbo a little longer.
The rockford school board voted 4 to 3 tonight to leave school attendance zones on the table for next year... Despite some reservations the process is moving too quickly.
Dozens of community members spoke out tonight for and against the switch to school zones.
Those in favor say zones would make better use of students' time by cutting down on lengthy bus rides. It would also save between 2 and 3 million dollars in transportation costs.
Many of the concerns against the change focus on the socio-economic impact of ending school choice, particularly for those zoned into East High school.
Rockford Parent Jay Ware says his kids would be zoned into East High School but he can afford to send them to a private school, many parents can't. He asked, "Are we zoning people into a school that's underperforming? Are we taking away people's choice to do anything about it?"
School Board President Nancy Kalchbrenner says the boundary lines could change. She says, "We've seen some changes already and that may happen again. But it's hard because every change on one side impacts another side so it's logistically difficult."
School zones are intended to balance socio-economic status among all schools. That's determined by the number of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch at each school. But some say it's just not working.
Superintendent Dennis Thompson said Monday the board must decide at it's next meeting what it wants to do next year. That will be February 13th.
In the meantime, he and the board are encouraging people to attend two public forums to speak their minds. One is scheduled for January 30th at 7 p.m. at Jefferson High School, 4145 Samuelson Road. The second is the same time February 8th at Eisenhower Middle School, 3525 Spring Creek Road.


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