Lee County School Board to vote on new Proximity-Based Student Assignment Plan for elementary age students

WGCU | By Mike Kiniri | February 6, 2023

For the past 17 years students in the School District of Lee County have been assigned schools using a system called School Choice. Depending on which zone a family lives in, parents rank schools by preference and then which school they get is determined by lottery.

The School Choice system went into place after the district achieved what’s called ‘unity status’ when a 1964 lawsuit over segregation in the county’s public schools was finally settled in 1999.

Now, the district board is considering a new plan to determine school assignments. The Proximity-Based Plan will reduce the number of schools parents have to choose from, based on new maps that have been drawn using data to ensure they provide fair options. The primary reason behind the new plan is transportation issues the district faces under the School Choice system, which guarantees busing for all students regardless of how far from their school they live. As the student population has grown, and new schools have been built, the current system has become untenable and right now approximately 3,000 students are being delivered to school late, or home from school late, every day.

The board is voting on the proximity-based plan — at this point only for elementary age students — tomorrow evening at 6:00. In order to better understand the new system, and the reasoning behind it and how it’s been designed, we spoke with Dr. Adam Molloy, he is Coordinator of the Superintendent’s Office and Project Lead for the new plan.

Dr. Molly has a background in issues around race and student assignment. His Master’s thesis was titled “Black Agency: The Role of African Americans in the Fight to Integrate the Lee County, Florida Public School System, 1954-1965” and his Doctorate thesis was titled “With all Deliberate Speed”: A Preliminary Investigation of a Race-Conscious Student Assignment Plan in Southern Florida.”

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