But the proximity under that plan comes with a tradeoff: It would lead to the greatest segregation of students by race and class among the five proposals, and runs the highest probability of sending many of the city’s poorest children of color to some of the worst-performing schools.
By contrast, poor students under the six-zone proposal would have a better chance of getting into a high-performing school than under the zone-free map But the average distance traveled to school would increase to 1.29 miles, representing a modest decrease from current levels.
The proposals could roughly save between 7 percent to 27 percent in transportation cost, depending on the proposal, said Michael Goar, deputy superintendent. He also said no decisions have been made on whether students currently enrolled at schools could stay there and for how long after the student-assignment changes are made.
Megan Wolf, a Jamaica Plain parent, cautioned the panel against placing too much emphasis on proximity. She said studies indicate that “closer to home schools don’t mean more integration, but less.”
One aspect of the student-assignment system that many parents loathe will not change under any of the proposals: having parents rank their choices of schools and then having them wait many weeks to see if the School Department’s computerized algorithm gives them their top pick or one of their less enthusiastic options.
But parents of elementary school students will not have to go through the process again for middle school anymore. Under the proposal, each elementary would be designated to feed into a specific middle school.
The School Department will gather additional input from parents and other interested community members at a series of community meetings that kick off Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Burke High School in Dorchester.