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Gainesville system school choice creates dilemma
School officials seek more balanced enrollments to avoid taxing capacity, resources
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Mundy Mill Academy students file onto buses at the end of the school day in Gainesville, on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. - photo by David Barnes

School choice is available for parents and students at five of the six elementary schools operated by the Gainesville school district.

But that could change next year.

Superintendent Jeremy Williams said adding school choice to the new Mundy Mill Academy is likely, but figuring out the logistics will take another month or two.

“Should we look at clustering?” he asked.

Gainesville elementary attendance

In zone Outside of zone

Centennial: 53.5% in zone; 46.5% outside of zone

Enota: 50.5% in zone; 49.5% outside of zone

Fair Street:42.7% in zone; 57.3% outside of zone

Gainesville: 52.4% in zone; 47.6% outside of zone

Mundy Mill: 93.4% in zone; 6.6% (with Pre-K) outside of zone

New Holland: 41.1% in zone; 58.9% (with Pre-K) outside of zone


For example, restricting school choice to just three options for students residing in one zone and three other options for students in another zone could help balance enrollment and hold transportation costs in line.

In that scenario, parents would still have the option of sending their child to any school in the system, but may be responsible for providing transportation.

In making changes to school choice, Williams wants to find a more equitable balance in attendance at each school. Buildings have capacity limits and resource restraints that must be considered, he said.

For example, 53.5 percent of students attending Centennial Arts Academy live in the school’s zoned district. Meanwhile, 58.9 percent of students at New Holland come from outside the school’s zoning.

Though that figure may be skewed by the presence of Pre-K at New Holland, one of just two schools to offer these classes, the same imbalance can found at other schools.

Fair Street has just 42.7 percent of its students residing within its zone.

“So we want to get that a little tighter,” Williams said.

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