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DPS Board of Education Approves Elementary Rules of Access for 2024-25

The Durham Public Schools Board of Education voted 6-1 Thursday evening to approve elementary rules of access, and a timeline for secondary school rules of access, to improve equity for students. This historic vote updates a school assignment plan that largely has been in place for three decades. These rules will shift elementary school zone assignments in order to increase pre-K seats and special program classrooms; reduce transportation time; increase access to academic programs; and provide a geographical base for students and their families, starting in the 2024-2025 school year. A detailed presentation about the proposal can be found here.

Called Growing Together and linked to the DPS Strategic Plan, the development of this initiative– which was conceptualized nearly three years ago– included community discussions and town halls to solicit input from students’ families. This new student assignment model includes five regions in the county to support the district’s ongoing commitment to increase equity and access to DPS application programs (“magnet schools”) and specialized services such as pre-kindergarten and Exceptional Children. 

“The vote by our board this evening solidifies our district’s commitment to equity and access for all students. Our community is caring, compassionate, progressive, forward-thinking and it’s growing. The changes that we are making now will enhance opportunities for our current students and families, and for the families and students we will serve in the future,” said Dr. Pascal Mubenga, DPS Superintendent.

The boundary recommendations represent the culmination of work spanning almost three years. During this time, staff have examined the complex components of the school assignment policy, studied its impact on district and school demographics and academic outcomes, reviewed research, and gathered community input to shape the recommendations. 

Leading up to the proposal for new elementary school boundaries, the school board adopted a regional model for elementary schools, with five designated areas of Durham County with equitable academic programs and improved transportation efficiency. The regions will host year-round schools and Dual Language Immersion programs available by application, and additional Montessori and International Baccalaureate programs would be offered county-wide.

Over the past two years, Durham Public Schools has worked collaboratively with district leaders, community partners, DPS staff and our families to improve equity and access to schools and programs while managing growth within our community. As a result, our Board of Education adopted a revised school assignment policy to allow for regions of access and new elementary school boundaries.

Bettina Umstead, Chair of the DPS Board of Education, called for support and collaboration as the district moves forward. “We’re going to need our community to partner with us,” she said.