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Saturday September 25th

Glenwood rezoning policy to be implemented for 2020-21 school year

<p>Patrick Abele, assistant superintendent of the Chapel Hill - Carrboro city schools, sits in on a district meeting on Friday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Lincoln Center on 750 S. Merritt Mill Rd.</p>
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Patrick Abele, assistant superintendent of the Chapel Hill - Carrboro city schools, sits in on a district meeting on Friday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Lincoln Center on 750 S. Merritt Mill Rd.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board of Education discussed options to modify Glenwood Elementary School’s 2020-21 assignment zone at an Oct. 3 meeting. The school has been at the center of discussion in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, as it is the site of a Mandarin Dual Language program.

The Board held a work session to discuss the Glenwood reassignment process. Board members were handed slips of paper listing various factors — socioeconomic status, student achievement, transportation, among others. They were directed to order those slips in a way that represented their policy priorities in the rezoning process.

Glenwood Elementary School, home of a Mandarin Dual Language program, will be rezoned for the 2020-21 school year.

“To me, student achievement is the output,” vice chairperson Mary Ann Wolf said. “So, we could say learning differences could be an input, versus, in my mind, we should expect high student achievement across the board.”

In June, the Board approved plans to move forward with the Glenwood Magnet Implementation Committee’s suggestions for a school-wide STEAM² focus. The STEAM² theme references the school’s focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math and Mandarin. All students will receive language instruction in Mandarin, either through a traditional or a dual-language instruction track.

“Some of the slots will be automatic — based on where students live — for the traditional track at the school, and then the other slots would then be based upon the lottery,” said Patrick Abele, assistant superintendent for support services.

Catherine Mau, coordinator of student enrollment, said the lottery has been part of incoming kindergarten registration for a few years. She said the school system is working to incorporate software that will allow parents to rank their preferences, rather than just checking a box.

“Every kindergartener for the past few years, every rising kindergartener who registers, is able to— well, the parent is able to — opt into the lottery,” Mau said.

The transition to a school-wide program will occur in the 2020-21 school year, when rising kindergarteners would have to enter a lottery for placement at Glenwood. Students who are already enrolled will be grandfathered in, and rising kindergarteners with siblings in kindergarten through fourth grade will also be guaranteed placement.

“The new process would be a smaller residential assignment zone and then a lottery process to fill slots,” Abele said.

As of now, the Board has not received or publicized information about the financial cost of modifying the assignment zone, although it will likely involve adding one or two buses to transport students across the zoning lines. There is no expected impact on personnel.

Currently, Abele said a key issue with Glenwood Elementary School’s capacity is the state’s class size requirements. While the Mandarin Dual Language program has a class size waiver, allowing for up to 24 students in a class, classes on the traditional track must comply with state requirements, he said.

“There’s a couple things that dictate capacity,” Abele said. “One’s going to be your physical space, and then two’s going to be the state requirements for class sizes.”

The Board has designated two opportunities for public comment on the 2020-21 Glenwood assignment zone: one on Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m. and the other on Oct. 21 at 5:30 p.m. 

“Our goal is, as we look into the future, that all students have opportunities and are successful in the academic offerings that the school district’s able to provide,” Abele said. “And that’s not only based on what the school district’s putting forth, but it’s also based on community and what the community values and looks for us to provide for students.”

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