Students can have school choice and boundaries

I attended the recent superintendent’s forum at Canyon Crest Academy, and I think those sorts of opportunities for the district to communicate directly with parents are invaluable.

But I feel it is not necessary to characterize the school choice issue as either we have choice or we have boundaries. That limited, two-sided view is polarizing the situation and now requires a facilitator to solve. You can have both.

Students who are in the Torrey Pines boundary area, for example, can still choose to attend whatever school in the district they want. If there is no room at the school they choose, then their default is to attend the school closest to them, which is Torrey Pines.  That is all that the parents who live near San Dieguito Academy are asking for. If they don’t get into their first-choice school, let their default school be the one closest to them. If the district draws boundaries, it does not mean that every student must go to their boundary school. It does not mean the lottery or choice process has to stop.

That would be sad if it were the case, because our district prides itself on the unique school environments available to their students. I have three kids and I could very easily see them attending three different schools.

The district can draw boundaries and then proceed with the system as it is now. Keep the lottery in place and use the inter-district transfer process (as is done with the middle schools) to allow students to choose their schools. Only on the rare occasions (according to the district’s own statistics) when demand exceeds capacity will geography come into play, allowing priority for those students within the boundary of the school to attend first, and then admitting others if there is room.

I look forward to the task force examination of the issue. I believe there is a solution that will preserve the character of the district and offer true choice.

Rimga Viskanta

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