RPS board member proposes plan to give parents choice on where to enroll students

RPS board member proposes plan to give parents choice on where to enroll students

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s standard for kids to attend the public schools based on where they live in any given city, but a Richmond Public Schools board member is proposing a plan to give parents the choice on where to enroll their children.

The Prioritize Parental Choice Not Parent Zip-Code Plan, proposed by school board member Jonathan Young, called it "the gold standard as it relates to increasing equity and diversity in our schools.”

Proposed at this past Monday’s school board meeting, Young says students and parents would list their schools of choice, and then finally select it through a lottery.

He cites other cities setting precedent for the plan: “San Francisco has done this, and they did it well. One of the things that they failed to account for was transportation.”

For that, Young proposes collaborating with GRTC to transport high school students, along with providing more buses, and adding bus stops to routes.

The changes would actually more than double the district’s transportation budget, but Young also has a plan to offset the added costs.

“I’m proposing to close five schools. Specifically, John Marshall High School, Henderson Middle, Southampton Elementary, Bellevue and Swansboro because they’re all under-enrolled,” he said.

Many parents were keen on Young’s idea, but raised concerns about whether the expectation for some students to attend certain schools are feasible.

“The way it currently is now with the zoning, it limits parents and kids socioeconomically. So if you eliminate that, then you eliminate those kinds of borders,” said Jamal Summerson of Richmond.

“I do feel like something like that would really hurt our children in the lower income bracket," said parent Karen Gage. "Their choice school wouldn’t necessarily be granted because of their inability to either reach that school physically or to just maintain any fees.”

Young says that the next step for the proposal is for it be presented to the Rezoning Advisory Committee.

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