Friday, April 10, 2009

Roanoke City School Board Votes 6-1 For Option 3 – Video added

School Board Member Courtney Penn Sole Vote for Option 2

School Board Member Courtney Penn Sole Vote for Option 2

After comments from each School Board Member expressing their reason for voting for or against each of three attendance zone options, option 3 passed 6 to 1. The vote essentially ends the desegregation lines drawn and court-approved in 1971. Courtney Penn in a long statement that centered around diversity percentages favored option 2. All the other members favored option 3 primarily for the superior feeder pattern to middle schools and sense of community the option offered. Option 3 was considered to produce the least school diversity compared to the other two options.

Tom Dunleavy presented two options for the underutilized Fishburn Park Elementary school in option 3. This had delayed the vote that was to have taken place Tuesday evening until today. The first option was to repurpose Fishburn as a pre-school facility. The second option which was favored unanimously is to use Fishburn as an Environmental Science Focus School akin to a magnet school. It has 10 acres and a greenhouse. “It will build community relationships, spirit, focus, and promote a healthy lifestyle,” said Dunleavy. It has a natural pond and amphitheatre.

Chairman David Carson Talks to NAACP President Brenda Hale

Chairman David Carson Talks to NAACP President Brenda Hale

 According to school administrator Rita Bishop, “they have the money already” and “the grant writers are working on it now” to obtain more “green stimulus” dollars from the federal government for the project. It will allow children to “get their hands dirty” and give children in apartments the opportunity to experience “thinking green.” Bishop said the program would be marketed and transportation will be provided. The capacity of Fishburn is 250 students. The students their now will stay. However, 40% of the students are transfers and this will have to be rectivied as they formulate a transfer policy. The school board was adjourned to discuss the “transfer policy.” An “equity policy” that had been introduced by school board member Mae Huff at a previous meeting will be discussed at the school boards next work-session on April 22nd.

School Board Chairman David Carson urged all to stand and give member Courtney Penn a standing ovation. All attendees stood clapping loudly and Penn was clearly moved. Penn was the member who crunched the number and used the GIS software that constructed the attendance zone options  which was no easy task.

Chairman Carson also alluded to the fact that THIS school board had “the guts” to address the long overdue school issues that previous boards were not willing to risk touching. Carson said for the most part everyone has been respectful though there were those who were opposed to any change at all. “This was not an option that could continue,” said Carson.  Brenda Hale, President of the Roanoke Chapter of the NAACP was in the audience and had repeatedly objected to all of the three options. See and hear Carson’s remarks – see the vote – see standing ovation for Courtney Penn:

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Education, Roanoke City Public Schools, Video



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