During the first two Davenport School District meetings on the 2013-14 budget and proposed boundary changes at the elementary and middle schools, most people supported keeping open enrollment at the high school level.
That sentiment shifted Wednesday during the third meeting at Harrison Elementary School as the majority of people spoke in favor of strict school boundaries and ending high school open enrollment.
During the fourth meeting Thursday at North High School, the chorus against high school open enrollment grew stronger.
About 140 people gathered in the auditorium at North to hear Superintendent Art Tate talk about his plan for strict boundaries at the elementary and intermediate school levels.
Tate said the plan he will recommend to the school board should alleviate overcrowding at some schools, balance building utilization, gain some transportation savings in the future, and promote the neighborhood and feeder school concept.
In return, Tate got an earful from many people who want an end to open enrollment at the high school level.
Terri Beebe, a reading teacher at Sudlow Intermediate, told Tate that if the district, “doesn’t do something about open enrollment at the high school level, you’re fighting a losing battle. You’re missing the big picture.”
For instance, Beebe said, a huge benefit in setting boundaries will be the pride and loyalty instilled in the students for their schools, from elementary to intermediate to high school.
Several parents said they wanted their children to go to North High School, so their families moved into the district. At North, their children thrived.
Carl Collins, band director at North, said that closing open enrollment would “create a consistency” that would allow the district to better plan programs for the schools.
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Rodney Blackwell, a parent who has a child in eighth grade at Wood Intermediate and a daughter at Harrison Elementary, said he wants to keep open enrollment at the high school level “because I want to be able to make the best decision for my kid.”
Blackwell added that, “not everyone has the option economically to build a house or move into the North High School district.”
Davenport school board member Rich Clewell listened intently to each of the speakers.
He said that several years ago, the school board considered closing open enrollment at the high school level. The board members, however, changed direction when they heard from an overwhelming number of people in favor of keeping open enrollment.
“Now, there is a diversity of voices whose opinions are somewhat different than what we heard the last time,” Clewell said.
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.