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Public Comment Sought for Proposed Student Attendance Zone Plan 
Posted 8/12/19

 

Logo for Bossier Parish School BoardThe Bossier Parish School Board will be seeking public comment at 6 p.m. at its August 15, 2019 meeting at Bossier Instructional Center, located at 2719 Airline Drive in Bossier City, LA on a student attendance zone plan for school year 2020-21 that has been submitted to and accepted by the U.S. Department of Justice to align all feeder schools in Bossier Parish. 

The Bossier Parish School Board is the defendant in a long-standing school desegregation case being handled by the Federal Court in Shreveport. The United States Department of Justice is a plaintiff in that case. School attendance zones throughout the parish are determined by the Federal Court after receiving input from the parties in the case. 

To provide context, the Federal Court ordered all school attendance zones in Bossier Parish be re-examined and the parties submit a joint proposal by March 1, 2019 to revise the existing school attendance zones. In the absence of an agreement on those zones, both the School Board and the Department of Justice would be required to submit its own proposal to the Court for consideration on or before April 1, 2019. By agreement of the parties, the Court delayed those dates to September 16, 2019 and October 16, 2019, respectively. The new student assignment plan approved by the Court will not be implemented until the 2020-21 school year. 

Attorneys and demographers retained by the Bossier Parish School Board began their review of existing school attendance zones in the fall of 2018 and began working on a student assignment plan that would do the following: (1) maximize racial diversity in the schools to the extent practicable; (2) minimize the use of temporary buildings wherever possible; (3) reduce student transportation times and distances where possible; ;(4) eliminate split school zones to create a pure feeder pattern for all students; and (5) anticipate future demographic changes in determining student capacities within the schools. They have completed their work on a plan that accomplishes all of those goals and representatives of the Department of Justice have tentatively accepted the plan as presented. 

However, any plan for Bossier Schools will not be submitted to the Court until it has been approved by the School Board following the opportunity for public input. That opportunity will be presented during the Bossier Parish School Board meeting on August 15, 2019, at which time attorney Bob Hammonds and demographer Mike Hefner will make a presentation about the student attendance zone plan they have drafted. 

Their focus will primarily be on those school zones for which significant changes are being proposed, and they will attempt to answer any questions that might arise during their presentation or during discussion of the proposal following thereafter. Because the court-ordered date of submission for such plan is fast approaching, the School Board may take action on the proposal that night. 

To give citizens an opportunity to review the proposal prior to the meeting, notice was placed on the Bossier Parish School Board website Monday, August 12, 2019 and will remain there for the duration of the week. The proposal consists of three maps (see attached files) showing the proposed elementary, middle and high school zones. 

Upon review of those maps, it is pertinent to point out all students living in a particular elementary school attendance zone will matriculate together to the same middle school and that all students attending that middle school will advance together to the same high school. This “feeder pattern plan” eliminates the need to separate students at the middle or high school levels as has occurred in certain parts of the parish under the existing plan and, for the first time, will unify students from the time they enter kindergarten to the time they graduate. 

Again, if approved by the Bossier Parish School Board, the changes would not be implemented until the 2020-21 school year.