The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

March 26, 2013

Our View: Board’s tough decision

We don’t envy members of the Joplin Board of Education. In a work session at 5 p.m. today followed by a regular session at 7 p.m. members of the board will take another run at voting on a redistricting proposal.

And they must do it without a crystal ball.

Changing school boundaries is never easy. Changing boundaries in the wake of the May 2011 tornado is particularly difficult because the Joplin district is ever-changing. A proposal has been recommended by a committee of faculty and parents to account for population shifts. Administrators tell us they need to balance enrollment, especially among the middle schools, and ease overcrowding.

The plan as proposed by the school district would redraw some of the district’s attendance zones, which designate the schools that students attend based on their addresses. About 200 current elementary students would be rezoned to different elementary schools next year. The proposal also would redirect students at Cecil Floyd, Royal Heights, Kelsey Norman and Emerson schools to different middle schools and would introduce a permit option at the middle school level.

After the district held information sessions with parents, an alternative plan was proposed by a group of parents from Cecil Floyd. That plan would shift the boundaries of certain elementary schools with the objective of keeping students in the elementary and middle schools that they live near and of balancing enrollment numbers.

We applaud the parents of Cecil Floyd students for their involvement in the process and making their voice heard.

At the same time, the duty of the school board must be, after getting input from parents, to make its decision based on what’s best for all.

No one in public office gets to win a popularity contest. The reward is in developing long-range plans that work.

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