One of Novato's stickiest and most contentious civic issues could be on the way to a settlement.
After a year of studies, discussion and debate, the took a step toward turning the lottery-entry into a neighborhood school Tuesday. But it will be gradual.
The district board of trustees voted unanimously to approve a scenario that allows some students from the Rancho neighborhood direct enrollment into the school and the rest of the student body to enroll via the long-established lottery system. It was part of a larger decision to change the boundaries of all eight elementary schools in the district.
"Overall when I look at the situation, I think it's the right thing to do," said trustee Derek Knell of the Rancho situation just before the vote "... I think we have to get this done. I think that 90 percent of us agree that we've just got to get this done."
Trustee Tom Cooper said the research was thoughtful and it was healthy for the district to revise the school boundaries. "That said," he added, "I think we'll be revisiting this on a yearly basis."
Rancho, the highest-achieving elementary school in the city and always among the best in Marin County, is the only non-charter school in the district that does not have traditional geographic boundaries from which to draw its students, resulting in a student body from all over town. It was a "back to basics" school from the 1970s to the early 2000s but now, by state law, teaches the same curriculum as the other elementary schools in Novato. A lottery system is used to determine who is accepted each year.
The community seemed divided in its support for Rancho's enrollment setup. Supporters pointed to the awesome academic results and the fairness of the lottery system, which is open to all. Detractors said there was no reason to have a lottery and that the socioeconomic and racial makeup of the student body was not as balanced as it could be.
So how do you feel about the Rancho decision? More than a year ago, Novato Patch drew a record amount of reader comments (just more than 200) on a story titled " Only the topic of affordable housing quotas has rivaled the Rancho conundrum in the past year or so.
Let us know your feelings about the trustee's decision by adding a comment below.
For another story about the issue, check this piece by the .