New official statistics reveal an overwhelming 72 percent of Metro students most directly affected by a controversial rezoning plan are choosing to attend their so-called neighborhood schools.
Of the 1,526 North Nashville students zoned last year for the Hillwood High School cluster, 1,094 have opted to go to schools closer to home in their newly zoned Pearl-Cohn High School cluster, according to figures released Thursday night by Metro Nashville Public Schools.
Similar data came out earlier this year but MNPS staff couldn’t release official figures until they tabulated October enrollment records.
Numbers, supplied by the central office to the Community Task Force on Student Assignment, come during the first week of court hearings of a rezoning suit in which three families, backed by the NAACP have charged MNPS with re-segregation.
Given the ongoing suit, school board member Mark North, who chairs the task force, advised against “candid discussion” on the statistics.
“There’s a risk that things discussed could get taken out of context and end up on the front page or whatever,” North told the 10-member group. “I don’t want that to happen.”
Approved last summer by a narrow 5-4 vote, supporters billed the contentious rezoning plan as a means to use buildings more efficiently, while fostering more parental involvement. Under the plan, students still had the choice to attend their previously zoned school.
Controversy stemmed with North Nashville students, primarily black, who for years had been bused across town to attend school in the more affluent, white Hillwood Cluster. Despite promises to inject more money into the Pearl-Cohn cluster, critics called the plan a deliberate attempt to segregate racially, keeping black students in traditionally low-performing schools.
Statistics show 86.8 percent of students now zoned for Buena Vista Enhanced Option School are attending there, as opposed to schools they could attend near Hillwood. North Nashville high school students, conversely, are split evenly, with 50 percent choosing to go to Pearl-Cohn and 50 percent opting for Hillwood.
When measuring all Metro students affected by the rezoning plan, 63 percent have selected their newly zoned school.