Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

School Board Orders Magnet Grade Standards

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

School Board Orders Magnet Grade Standards

Article excerpt

Students at Jacksonville's four academic magnet schools soon

will have to keep their grades up or find themselves ousted from

the challenging programs.

In a measure adopted by a 4-2 vote, the School Board last night

directed Superintendent Larry Zenke to create a minimum

performance standard for students to pass from grade level to

grade level.

What that standard will be is still to be determined by Zenke,

but it will apply to students who attend James Weldon Johnson

and DarnellCookman middle schools, Stanton College Preparatory

School and the newly named Paxon School for Advanced Studies.

There are no standards for admission to the academic magnet

schools. Students are chosen through a lottery system.

"We have to have something in place to ensure the integrity of

their programs," said Linda Sparks, a board member who has been

a longtime supporter of admissions standards for academic


Board member Gwen Gibson, who along with Gwendola Jones voted

against the measure, said the issue is one of assuring all

students have access to the most challenging courses of study.

"We're now creating one standard for magnet students and

possibly another standard for traditional students," Gibson

said. "That's not equal access. That's not equal treatment."

Board member Stan Jordan did not vote. He left the meeting for

about two hours because of a family emergency.

Also last night, the board voted to direct Zenke to create a

plan for handling schools with too many students. The plan would

make it clear when schools have reached their maximum

enrollments, clearing up past disputes over how many students

can be packed into individual schools.

What will be included in the plan was not spelled out by the

board. Zenke will bring a recommendation back to the body.

"If we've got . . . some consistency in how we address

overcrowding, it will say to the community: We've got some

plans," said Susan Wilkinson, who sponsored the resolution. …

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