by Max Brantley
Another year, another Quiz Bowl. Dunbar again won the LRSD middle school championship, with Pulaski Heights second and Mann team tied for third.
I know everyone wanted to know.
But this was an interesting byproduct of my day there. I heard buzz about the administration's decision to cut the freshman class at Central High next year to 550 students, a drop of about 100. This is important information to the parents and teachers of high-achieving kids, the sort you find in Quiz Bowl competitions. Central has attracted a disproportionate share of top students over the years. Students who can't get in Central and can't win a lottery seat in the relatively small Parkview magnet haven't flocked, generally, to other district high schools. Hall has inched upward in recent years, helped in part by its UALR ties. Fair and McClellan haven't fared as well.
I've seen some e-mails from board members to Interim Superintendent Linda Watson about the Central cutback and a discussion of district registration procedures. Watson has said the cutback was forced by the larger numbers in upper grades at Central. Those classes have been smaller in past years, she said, allowing more enrolling freshmen. No board member has challenged her on this explanation yet.
But suspicion lingers that the current board majority -- and administrative leadership -- have designs on ending Central's role as a leading academic high school. I have no idea if that's true. No high school should be a gulag. But centers of excellence also serve a worthwhile purpose. As a practical matter, the demand for the highest level courses isn't great enough to teach all of them at every high school. I have a feeling this subject will break out into open discussion before long,.
UPDATE: I dug up some emails on the subject.
LR SCHOOL BOARD EMAILS. READ FROM BOTTOM UP:
Watson, Linda ;
Beverly Griffin ; bkurrus ; charles armstrong ;
Diane Curry ;
Katherine Mitchell ;
Melanie Fox ;
Sent: Friday, March 14, 2008 4:26 PM
Subject: Re: chs
Based on the numbers I've seen, I can see no reason not to let all these children into CHS. This is causing unnecessary problems and anxiety for these families.
On Wed, Mar 12, 2008 at 3:40 PM, Watson, Linda <
All of our schools have capacity numbers which are used for student assignments and staffing needs. We have extended ourselves for the last several years to increase the number to 650 students and sometimes we have gone over 700 students in the 9th grade. In those instances, the upper grades were lower so we could accommodate a larger 9th grade population. The increase in Central's numbers has necessitated the use of portable buildings. We have also had to close the school which prevented attendance students from enrolling resulting in alternative assignments to other schools.
Now that Central's upper classes are averaging at 600 or more, we can not continue to assign beyond the 650 students in the 9th grade.
In times pasted, we have been confronted with an increase in Central's attendance zone assignments between now and the beginning of the school year. Some students are going to move into Central's attendance zone and some will move out.
Central's magnet component was designed for 125 students. However, first choice assignments for the magnet component have increased from 135 to 161 to 259. We will continue to monitor the waiting list and make assignments when we can.
From: Larry Berkley [mailto:
Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 11:27 AM
To: Griffin, Beverly; bkurrus; charles armstrong; Diane Curry; Katherine Mitchell; Melanie Fox; rmdaugherty; Watson, Linda
What is the rationale for limiting the size of the freshman class at CHS to 550?