- George Watts
DPS Introduces Regional Access Model for its "Growing Together Plan"
Durham Public Schools leaders announced today a new student assignment model with five regions in the county to support the district’s ongoing commitment to increase equity and access to DPS choice programs (“magnet schools”) and specialized services. The work is part of the Growing Together initiative linked to the DPS Strategic Plan.
For the past two years, a team of DPS academic, operational, and administrative leaders has sought community input and examined current student assignment policies and operations to ensure students in Durham can equitably access quality programs and services. The last significant adjustment occurred when Durham City Schools and Durham County Schools merged in the 1990s.
These five DPS regions will support school boundaries in the 2023-2024 school year while increasing operational efficiencies including reducing school bus ride times for children.
“We’re growing future leaders in our district, and Growing Together positions our district for the continued population growth we are experiencing in Durham,” said DPS Superintendent Pascal Mubenga. “Education is key to quality of life and the future of our county. We owe it to our students to provide them with equitable opportunities to reach their limitless potential.”
The Regional Access Model is supported by revisions to Student Assignment Policy 4150 adopted by the Board of Education in December 2021. The model is designed to increase access to programs within five regions: Northern, Eastern, Central, Southeast, and Southwest. The regions were created based on specific criteria: community infrastructure such as major highways and natural ecosystems, median household income, the percentage of people of color, and the number of school-aged children residing in the region.
The Model further offers a framework by which choice programs will be placed at schools within those regions and provides guidance for developing school assignment boundaries, according to Mathew Palmer, DPS Executive Director for Transportation, School Planning and Nutrition.
“All Durham students can learn and thrive in DPS, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that happens,” said Palmer. “Centered at the heart of this recommendation are the voices of DPS families, staff, and our community, which serve as our collective conscience for this work to ensure access to a quality education and excellent outcomes for all students.”
Following the announcement of the regions, DPS will continue work towards recommendations for the placement of choice programs within regions and adjustments to school boundaries. Public hearings will be held in the coming weeks for those boundaries. The district will also host a Town Hall meeting for families and staff. Stakeholders can also learn more about the Growing Together Plan via the “Get to Know as We Grow” Podcast. Additional information regarding Growing Together can be found at ENGAGE.dpsnc.net.
PRIORITIES OF THE GROWING TOGETHER INITIATIVE
- Align our PreK and EC Special Program classrooms so that our youngest and often most vulnerable students have access to programs that they need and deserve.
- Evaluate the impact of DPS choice programs and the equity and access to these programs across the district
- Update school boundaries as DPS opens new schools and renovates others in response to Durham’s tremendous growth.