CPS Considers Giving Elementary Schools Autonomy

7 years 20 hours 11 minutes ago Wednesday, December 15 2010 Dec 15, 2010 Wednesday, December 15, 2010 7:47:33 PM CST December 15, 2010 in News
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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools this week took up a proposal to make three of its elementary schools autonomous. The plan was proposed to the board on Monday. The schools would be allowed to control the following areas: staffing, budget, curriculum, governance, and the school calendar. The schools--Benton, Lee, and Ridgeway--wouldn't receive more funding, but they would be able to cater to the specific needs of that school.

All of these efforts are to help with the achievement gap.  School officials said that other factors such as mobility affect the well-being of students.

"If we can provide consistency by keeping kids in a school the entire year or the entire 6 years, we will actually reduce the achievement gap," said Assistant Superintendent Peter Stiepleman.

According to CPS, Benton Elementary has a mobility rate of 34 percent compared to a district average of nearly 16 percent.

"That means that 34 percent of our students have either moved in or moved out. And so that makes things difficult. We want to keep our students as long as we can," said Benton Principal Troy Hogg.

With the proposed plan, schools may provide transportation to all students regardless of if they live within the district to keep them at the same school.

Officials say the high mobility rate could be linked to the high number students living at or below the poverty line.

If the plan goes through, Benton would become a S.T.E.M school which would focus on science, technology, engineering, and math.

Lee Elementary already has a specialty--art. And Ridgeway Elementary has an individual guide education.

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