Magnet School Racial Imbalance

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Racial imbalance is a growing concern in Dothan city magnet schools. They started out primarily as minority schools, but each year fewer minorities are applying and the imbalance is alarming.

When magnet schools were established in Dothan, they were intended to bring quality education to minority neighborhoods. They were also open to children from other neighborhoods to provide a well-rounded, multi-racial education.

Montana St. Magnet School Principal Sue Clark said, "The purpose was to get more white students into a minority school. Which that goal has been accomplished. Now that that's been accomplished, your concern is now, 'gee, we don't have as many minority children.' So that's when you have to go back and look at your data."

However, the data only shows numbers; there is no clear information explaining the imbalance or why.

One of the main guesses is that there are fewer students who live in the school's neighborhood or the preference zone.

"This is a speculation that there's a high turnover rate because you have rental property and you have elderly living in the community. So it did not draw as many students as they felt like it would at the beginning," said Clark.

This imbalance has been in issue for almost as long as the school has been established about four years ago. Now school administrators are trying to reverse the trend beginning with communication.

The priority zone area will be more heavily targeted for announcements and enrollment education.

The school will also host meetings to better explain how to fill out an application and explain what is expected of parents and students.

Students who live in the preference zone get priority in enrollment and are automatically accepted.

Once accepted, students are rarely dropped from the school.