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Saturday, July 18, 2009

What Do Rock Hill Schools Mean By Balance?

The recent Rock Hill School Board activity on developing a school assignment policy based on "balance" requires a discussion on what "balance" is. The dictionary says:

2: a means of judging or deciding3: a counterbalancing weight, force, or influence5 a: stability produced by even distribution b: equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements c: equality between the totals 6 a: an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements

A lot of folks would think if the schools are "balanced", they would have the demographics that represent the district. Unfortunately, this is not possible because our district is not evenly distributed, coupled with the fact some of our elementary schools are small. Variation in our elementary schools can be quite a lot, even when we say they are "balanced". The district has used a difference of +/- 15% to indicate balance for elementary schools. Using this variation, we currently have two schools out of "balance", Belleview(H) and Northside(H). If you change the parameter and use a one sigma variation, we'd have six additional schools out of "balance":, Mt. Gallant(L), Oakdale(H), Old Pointe(L), Dutchman Creek(L), Rawlinson Road(L), and South Pointe(H). The one sigma variation for schools (based on free & reduced lunch) would be 12.5% for elementary schools, 7.2% for middle schools, and 2.2% for high schools. But, do these numbers really give us balance? Experts say there is a lot of difference between free lunch and reduced lunch - should we be making a distinction between the two? And what about non whites (the new minority)? Should that be taken into consideration?

As you can see, the answers are not clear cut.

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