If you live outside of the magnet school zones and want your child to attend one of the four alternative schools, be prepared to wait in line.
Last Tuesday, despite protest from a number of concerned parents and teachers over the past few months, the members of the Bend-La Pine school board chose to keep in place the current rules that determine how children are admitted to Amity Creek, Highland, Westside Village and east side magnet, Juniper Elementary School.
At the December 13 meeting, board member Beth Bagley made a motion to amend the magnet school zone policy, but her fellow board members failed to second the motion effectively killing any possibility of revising the magnet school admission policy.
As it stands today, those living within the determined walking zones of the schools are given first priority in the admission process. Children with siblings already attending a particular magnet school are similarly advanced to the top of the wait list, leaving little to no room for the kids of families who don't satisfy the two criteria above. Last year Amity admitted just two children from the waiting list.
Critics say those numbers don't square with the district's policy, which states that, "the magnet school will provide equal opportunity for all nationalities, races, ethnic groups, abilities and genders within Bend-La Pine Schools."
Bagley, an attorney who is campaigning for a judgeship, said she fears that the current policies surrounding admittance to the popular schools aren't meeting the stated guidelines.
"I don't see that being served right now," Bagley said, reiterating that the magnet schools are not neighborhood schools, and thus, follow different admission principles.
Four of the five community members who spoke during the public comment period voiced their disapproval with the current magnet school zones.
"They're not creating space for everyone," said Meg Burkholder, a retired teacher. "They need to have a policy more open to all."