Ten years ago, the Bend-La Pine Schools confronted an issue it will confront again this week: Who should get to go to the district’s magnet schools?
Parents can want their kids to get into magnet schools. The schools have unique programs. For instance, the Highland Magnet at Kenwood uses the Scottish Storyline Method.
But there are only so many magnet schools and only so many spots in those schools. Not everybody who may want to get in may be able to get in.
The district’s longstanding policy has been to give priority to students who have siblings at the school, children of staff members and most importantly to students who live nearby, within a magnet’s walking zone. Remaining spots are filled through a lottery.
So living close to a magnet is an advantage. And three of the elementary magnets are on the west side: Highland, Amity Creek and Westside Village. Juniper Elementary’s technology magnet is also a great option on the east side. Bear Creek and Jewell elementaries, both on the east side, have Spanish immersion programs. We don’t have to tell you that perceptions of west side/east side bias are sensitive in Bend for everything from roundabouts to parks to locations of possible managed homeless camps.
Going back those 10 years ago, there was motion on the table at the school board meeting to scrap the walking zone. It died for lack of a second. This week, the school board is set to take up the policy for magnet schools again. The draft policy basically keeps it the same with a magnet walking zone for Highland, Amity Creek and Westside.
Is that fair? We hope the board challenges district officials on this matter and asks questions. Are the resources relatively balanced between the magnet schools and the other district schools? Are the teacher/student ratios much different? Is the academic performance of students about the same?
We think the big question for the board is: Would it be more fair to scrap the magnet walking zone?
The board meets Tuesday starting at 5:30 p.m. You can watch it here: tinyurl.com/Bendschoolsyoutube.