Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Parents of Students Being Zoned Out of Bartlett Schools Speak Out

Posted By on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Rhonda Davis has a grandson who currently attends Dexter Middle School, and before Bartlett formed its own municipal school district, he would have been on track to attend Bartlett High School. But since her grandson lives in an unincorporated "doughtnut hole" area outside the Bartlett city limits, the proposed Shelby County Schools rezoning plans would have him going to Ridgeway High School instead.

Some of his classmates who live in Memphis reserve, rural reserve, or unincorporated areas would be moved to Cordova High School. That's because Shelby County Schools (SCS) couldn't find the capacity in any single school for all 440 or so high school kids that are affected by the rezoning proposal.

"He has gone to Dexter from K through now, and he's going to be split from friends he's known his whole life," Davis told a panel of representatives from SCS at a rezoning meeting at Kate Bond Middle School Tuesday night.

Students who live in unincorporated areas and currently attend what will become the municipal school districts are "no longer entitled by right to attend that school within the municipal school district without express approval" from those districts, according to SCS director of facilities planning Denise Sharpe. Parents of those students can try to stay in the municipal school via open enrollment. But Sharpe told parents that municipals may or may not approve open enrollment requests because "they also have concerns to do with capacity."

Tonight's meeting at Kate Bond dealt with students who live in unincorporated areas and currently attend schools that will fall into the Bartlett district next school year. If approved by the SCS board, 395 students at Bartlett Elementary will attend Dexter Elementary next year. Students who attend Shadowlawn Middle will attend Dexter Middle next year.

Although the kids being moved to Dexter Elementary and Middle live about seven-and-a-half miles from their proposed new schools, Sharpe said Dexter was chosen because "we wanted to make sure elementary students could ride the bus with their older siblings, and it has more adequate capacity and is comparable academically" to their old schools.

About 310 students who attend currently Bartlett High and live in the northwest section of the zoning area will be moved to Bolton High. About 440 students currently at Bartlett High in the Dexter zoning area (otherwise known as the "doughnut hole") would be moved to Ridgeway High and Cordova High.

"We are splitting the cohort because there is no way to get that many students into Cordova High," Sharpe said.

White Station High School would have been even closer for some of those students, but Sharpe said there was no space there for additional students.

Linda Macklin has a daughter in tenth grade at Bartlett High, and although Macklin hadn't studied the map well enough to determine whether her child would be moved to Cordova or Ridgeway High, she told the panel that Ridgeway wasn't an option.

"I have friends with kids at Ridgeway, and it is an under-performing school. It is not as good of a school as Bartlett. It is scary for me for my child to be changing schools in the tenth grade," Macklin said.

The SCS board will vote on rezoning before any changes are finalized.

This map shows the zoning changes for students who live in the Dexter area and currently attend Bartlett High School
  • This map shows the zoning changes for students who live in the Dexter area and currently attend Bartlett High School

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