When it comes to plans for redistricting, the Wayne County Public Schools Board of Education needs a reminder that a horse will pull but not push a cart; so putting the cart before the horse will get you nowhere.
It’s the early stages/talks about redistricting where the board members are getting ahead of themselves. The idea is to spend $75,000, if the schools’ finance committee approves, on a consulting firm from Ohio to recommend boundary adjustments to the lines in the county that designate where students go to high school, middle school, elementary and non-traditional schools. We think that spending that kind of money on a study is extravagant. So we ask that the finance committee not approve such a request.
The other way in which school officials are not looking correctly at redistricting is when it’s expected, the public is brought into the program. The contractor mentioned in Thursday’s News-Argus reports the importance of bringing in the stakeholders, who we believe are school officials, taxpayers, parents and students, from the beginning. Yet the initial plan itself — expected to run from March through November for implementation in the 2020 school year — does not bring the public in until June and then again in August. It seems that with this timetable, most of the decisions will have been made before the public learns about the plan (June’s meeting) and comments on it (August’s meeting).
Years and years of nationwide parental and taxpayer protests over school redistricting should teach officials that getting the public’s buy-in as early as possible before even considering a line change is not just prudent but essential.
Wayne County Public Schools is experiencing some student population problems. As reported Thursday, moving students and grades between middle and elementary schools is a near impossibility with the number of students in grades K-4 and grades 5-8. It makes sense then that some changes must be made. But nothing should be done without parent, student and taxpayer input. And in no way should $75,000 be spent on or committed to a redistricting plan until the public has been heard.