Chilmonik: School choice changes "don't go far enough"
Former board member bob chilmonik...who's considering running again...says the only way to solve the district's transportation troubles...is a full return to neighborhood schools.Photo: Video by fox4now.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Is it just a Band-Aid on a bigger problem?
Former Lee County school board member Bob Chilmonik, who is considering another run for office, says the district's school choice changes don't go far enough.
"I welcome these changes," said Chilmonik at his Cape Coral home. "I fought for many years for changes for neighborhood schools. So anything is better than nothing."
Chilmonik says the only way to solve the district's transportation troubles is a full return to neighborhood schools.
On Tuesday the school board voted to extend the proximity preference for elementary and middle school students from 2 miles to five.
Students who live within 2 miles of a school will still get first dibs. Then preference goes to students who live 2.1 to 5 miles away.
"It doesn't go far enough," said Chilmonik. "I'd like to see a bolder move."
That bolder move, Chilmonik says, would be a return to neighborhood schools.
"This is a good first small step towards that goal," said Chilmonik. "However, we still have a long ways to go."
Superintendent Joseph Burke says the move is a good compromise. He says ending school choice isn't something that can happen overnight.
"We could not have dismantled the school choice plan and moved rapidly to a neighborhood school plan," said Burke, "in a short period of time."
Burke says this choice compromise will save the district money, cut down on long bus rides and put more students in schools closer to home.
The district will survey residents to see what they think so they can have a say on the future of choice.
"When we do the survey," said Burke, "we're going to get a lot of good data about where the community really wants to go on that issue."
Burke says school choice is a "very powerful political movement" that is supported by the state legislature, the governor, and many parents - how many, though, will be determined by that survey.
Matt Grant, Reporter