Durham Public Schools to delay magnet school changes

CorrespondentDecember 7, 2011 

— Durham Public Schools Superintendent Eric Becoats said today that he will advise the Board of Education to re-evaluate a controversial proposal to revamp magnet and other schools of choice.

“The community delivered a very clear and unified message: That this is happening too fast and more time is needed to examine the proposal, gather additional feedback and engage in productive dialogue concerning potential solutions,” Becoats said. “We heard that message loud and clear.”

Becoats will advise the board at its meeting Dec. 15 to move forward with pressing matters, such as redrawing attendance zones to fill Lucas Middle School when it opens next school year, and to make decisions on the year-round W.G. Pearson Middle School. The proposed plan recommended that the district shut down the school because it is no longer an adequate building.

Becoats said the planning process for the other changes “would extend at least through April.” The school board still plans to listen to community feedback at a 6:30 p.m. Thursday public session at Southern High School.

DPS released the proposal Nov. 16 with a plan to hold three public meetings before the Board of Education voted on the plan Dec. 15. DPS officials had said they needed to move quickly so the plan would be in place when the magnet school application process starts on Jan. 21.

Many criticized the proposed magnet changes, which would have restricted access to the popular Durham School of the Arts, and asked the Board of Education to slow the process down to ensure information is disseminated throughout the entire community. More than 350 people attended a meeting Monday night.

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