Council members, public sound off on school-district changes

Ward One Councilmember Jim Graham was among those who testified before the D.C. State Board of Education about efforts to change school boundaries and school choice policies. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

WASHINGTON — Families often choose where to live based on a good school in the neighborhood, but proposed changes in D.C. could mean children might not get to attend the desirable school mom and dad made sure to move close to.

That’s because the city is considering changes to school boundaries, school assignment and choice policies.

Leaders say the changes, which would be the first in D.C. in decades, are needed because of changes in the city’s population and demographics.

One idea would require all students to enter a city-wide lottery to decide which high school they’ll attend.

Read more about some of the proposals on the Deputy Mayor for Education site, where they are compared to current school policy.

Several people testified about the possible changes at Wednesday night’s State Board of Education meeting, including Ward One Councilmember Jim Graham.

“I strongly support maintaining the existing feeder patterns, so that Bancroft [Elementary School] students may be able to attend Deal Middle School and Wilson High School.”

Graham says he’s received numerous calls and emails, as well as a petition from more than 100 families in his ward, asking for this feeder pattern to stay as is.

“I agree with my constituents, and I believe they deserve the right to send their children to schools which they expected to be able to send their children to,” he added.

ANC 2B Commissioner Stephanie Maltz addressed the board with her thoughts Wednesday.

“The process so far has failed to deliver on these three goals: clarity, predictability and access to quality schools,” Maltz said.

Clarence Cherry has two children who go to D.C. Public Schools.

“Those who have been appointed to the positions to deal with the childrens’ education process are not putting children first,” Cherry said.

An informational fair and town hall meeting on this topic starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Coolidge High School in Northwest, with more community meetings to come this weekend.

For a list of the meetings that have been scheduled so far, visit the Deputy Mayor for Education site as well.

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