Districts News

January 23, 1991 3 min read

Connecticut Cites District For Racial Imbalance in School

The Connecticut State Board of Education has cited the Meridan school district for having a school with a racially imbalanced enrollment and has ordered the district to submit a plan to resolve the problem by May 1.

The state first notified the district of the problem in September under a state law that automatically mandates a warning when a single school’s minority population exceeds by 25 percent the district’s overall minority enrollment.

In Meridan, 33 percent of K-5 students come from minority groups; at John Barry elementary school, the school cited for the imbalance, 60 percent of students are minority.

Glen A. Lamontagne, the district’s assistant superintendent, said that the problem stems from a four-year, $21-million expansion of the district’s eight elementary schools. In August, community volunteers founded a task force to find solutions to both population-balance and racial-distribution problems in the city’s schools.

The community group’s redistricting plan will be submitted to the local school board, which will pass it to the state board for evaluation. Pending approval of the plan, Meridan schools will aim for compliance with state enrollment regulations in the 1991-92 school year, officials said.

Parents in a Georgia district have narrowly defeated a proposal to create what would have been the state’s first year-round school schedule.

Seventy-eight percent of the parents of College Park Elementary School students voted in favor of the plan, which needed an 80 percent majority vote to be implemented, according to Gary Field, the school’s principal.

A total of 202 out of 300 eligible families cast ballots, Mr. Field said. “I expected the percentage to be close to 80, but over it, not under it,” he added.

Under the plan, supported by State Superintendent of Schools Werner Rogers, 180 school days would have been spread across four 45-day quarters separated by three-week vacations.

The College Park Parent-Teachers Association has asked for another vote on the plan later this school year.

The Orange County, Fla., school board has amended its year-round school policy to allow for transfers if the schedule interferes with students’ court-ordered visits to parents.

The new policy, approved by the board last month, also permits transfers for medical, emotional, or academic hardships, but not for cases in which parents do not like year-round school or have difficulty making day-care or vacation arrangements.

The change in policy was also recently approved by the U.S. District Court in Orlando, which is overseeing the district’s court-ordered desegregation plan.

Under the county system, each year-round school is linked with a nearby “sister” school that has a similar racial makeup. The new policy permits year-round students to transfer to their sister school under certain situations.

School officials said they did not expect many transfer requests.

Three district schools currently are on the year-round schedule.

Two local foundations have joined forces with the Oklahoma City school district to offer what they call the first districtwide scholarship program in the nation for students who successfully complete an Advanced Placement exam.

The Oklahoma City Community Foundation and the Oklahoma City Public School Foundation will offer $25,000 in scholarships this school year and next for students scoring at least a 3 on an ap exam. Students scoring a 5 will receive $300, students scoring a 4 will receive $200, and those with a 3 will get $100.

School and foundation officials said they hoped the awards would be an incentive.

“The feeling was that, even though there was this automatic award [in passing the exam], there still was not that peer pressure to do well,” said Nancy Anthony, executive director of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. “We thought we’ve got to do something to convince them.”

In 1989, only 17 percent of the students in the district who took the exam qualified for college credit, compared with 55 percent nationally, she said. A score of 3 or better is needed to gain college credit.

Of the 538 students enrolled in the district’s 35 ap classes this year, 170 are expected to qualify.

A version of this article appeared in the January 23, 1991 edition of Education Week as Districts News