Heather Johnson does not doubt that the Davenport School District should change school boundaries to make them more equitable.
But speaking to Superintendent Art Tate before about 80 people Wednesday at Harrison Elementary School during the district’s third meeting on the 2013-14 budget and boundaries, Johnson said the redistricting plan must consider the percentage of students at each school who receive free or reduced lunches.
Tate would like each elementary school as close as possible to 85 percent of capacity. Several already are at 100 percent while others are under 75 percent. The schools would feed students into specific middle schools.
The proposed plan, Johnson said, “seems to be so tightly drawn that it would cause poor schools to remain poor, and that poverty would extend to the middle school, and then to the high school.”
At least one of redistricting proposals proves Johnson has a point.
Monroe and Hayes elementary schools would be the only two to send students to Frank L. Smart Intermediate under Tate’s proposal. As of the 2011-12 school year, Monroe had 89.1 percent of its students on free and reduced lunch while Hayes had 80.5 percent on free and reduced lunch, according to statistics from the Iowa Department of Education. Both schools currently are below 85 percent utilization. Smart, during the 2011-12 school year, had 78.6 percent of its students on free and reduced lunch, according to the Iowa Department of Education. Smart’s building utilization is currently 54 percent.
Maintaining open enrollment at the high school level also was supported by a number of speakers.
Also during the meeting, the district’s chief financial officer, Marsha Tangen, outlined plans to cut up to $3.126 million from the 2013-14 school budget.