Request for modification to Policy 705.09 "Schools of Controlled Choice Seat Assignment"

email sent to the U4 Board Members and Dr. Zola:

Good morning, Board Members and Dr. Zola,

I know that there are many ongoing discussions about “Controlled Choice”, and I realize there is already a lot of work in progress with the intent of improving the system even further. To avoid getting lost in the “noise”, allow me to make this short and brief.

Please alter Policy 705.09 “Schools of Controlled Choice Seat Assignment” to include the following two pieces of information:
1. Any and all previously undocumented verbal directives used by the Family Information Center to determine school and waitlist placement. There never should be an instance where the FIC is following one set of rules that is not made public to the community. I recently learned of one such verbal directive in practice during the most recent school assignment process.
2. The clear and explicit details of how SES is calculated. This should not be a secret. It should also be consistent across the district, where “SES” in one context means the same in another context.
Thank you for your time and attention.

13 Responses to “Request for modification to Policy 705.09 "Schools of Controlled Choice Seat Assignment"”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    The undocumented “verbal directive” was along the lines of “place all unassigned registrants at the top of the waitlist”. Whether or not the quirk was exploited (ie, if you want one school, only choose one school), I have a big problem with any directive being undocumented.

    As to the calculation of SES, I firmly believe there would be significantly less controversy and more openness, which increases the perception of “fairness”, if SES were simply based on free&reduced lunch status. If a more comprehensive and involved formula is really needed, then we all need to know the gritty details to justify it.

    If you disagree, I urge you to engage in a reasoned argument here.

  2. Adam Says:

    I’m sorry if this is posted elsewhere and I just missed it, but what was the verbal directive FIC was following during most of the recent school assignment process?

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      Adam, I think our two comments overlapped. 🙂

      The undocumented “verbal directive” was along the lines of “place all unassigned registrants at the top of the waitlist”.

  3. Karen Says:

    Do they actually verify income for free/reduced lunch?

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      @Karen, to be honest, I am not entirely certain. They have a form they use for folks to apply for free and reduced lunch; if the parents qualify for SNAP or TANF, I assume that is easy enough to verify. Otherwise, without official tax records (which do not appear to be required), I am not sure how Unit 4 actually verifies household income. What is really funny, down at the bottom left of the form, is a section for “Date, Method, Results of Follow-up” that only gets about 3 centimeters (if that much). I can’t imagine they pack a whole story in there.

      But now that I am curious, I am going to ask.

  4. charlesdschultz Says:

    Stephanie Stuart pointed me towards the ISBE:

    In the Schools of Controlled Choice Process, family household income is self-reported.

    For families receiving Free and Reduced Lunch services, the District follows the guidelines outlined by ISBE for verification. I have attached a copy of those guidelines for your reference. Here is some language under Option 1 in that document that addresses your question:

    “Under Option 1, a school board that participates in a federally funded, school-based child
    nutrition program and uses a student’s application for that program as the basis for waiving
    fees must follow the federal requirements for verifying a student’s eligibility for both the
    meals program and waiver of school fees. This means that if a child is eligible for free
    meals, his or her school fees are automatically waived based on the meals application;
    however, federal requirements restrict the school district to verifying only 3% of the
    approved meal applications on file as of October 1, unless it has established just cause.”

  5. Karen Says:

    ‘…just cause…’ lol.

    • theresa Says:

      I don’t get what you mean. Do you not think there is just cause or do you not think unit 4 uses it?

      • Karen Says:

        Why do you need ‘just cause’ to verify income when a requirement of qualifying for the program is a certain level of income? I think it’s morbidly comical, I guess. Hence, the ‘lol.’ Relying on self-report has certain overhead costs that honest people end up picking up the tab for. My guess is there is widespread fraud/abuse (speaking in a nation-wide sense) of the free/reduced school lunch program. And, yes, I am a big meanie for ‘not wanting kids to get fed.’ (It seems, there can never be any productive cost-containment discussion/action in the public sector when it comes to anything that can be reduced to: ‘but, it’s for the kids.’) What does relying on self-report of SES for priority mean around here for School Choice? Are tax payers ok with no verfitication of that? The fall-back of being able to verify more than 3% of applicants if there is ‘just cause’ is not reassuring as I can’t think of what would rise to the level of ‘just cause’ without being considered some type of targeting or profiling. Overhead/collateral costs add up, and maybe there should be scrutiny in the form of verification of income (it’s not some wild idea for a program based on…income) during tough economic times so that limited money goes further to help those who truly need tht ehelp.

  6. Karen Says:

    Thanks for looking into it though.

  7. pattsi Says:

    The following is a conversation occurring on PLANET, the academic urban planning listserv, about resiliency, thus SES.

    This is kind of interesting. Problem is, the definition of resilience as it applies to SESs (socio-economic systems) is far from settled. Stated simply, is it “bouncing back” or finding one’s way, re-establishing the coherence of existing institutions or inventing new ones? Research and theory suggest that resilience can be any or all of these, depending on the nature of the disturbance and the system that you’re dealing with (cities contain many “nested” systems in addition to being a “nested” system themselves).

    Edward Jepson, Ph.D., AICP

    Knoxville, TN

  8. Public Access Counselor and the Attorney General’s office | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] for changes in Controlled Choice (aka, Schools of Choice, Kindergarten Lottery, etc) by suggesting policy changes and interacting with board members (individually and as a group). Where is your path […]

  9. Controlled Choice Committee tomorrow (Friday, August 9th) | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] I have not yet seen an agenda. I have expressed a desire to discuss Policy 705.09 (blog posts 1 and 2) as well as the Choice RFP *(blog post). Anything else from you […]

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