PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – School officials are rethinking a plan to re-segregate schools in the Woodland Hills School District.
On Wednesday night, school officials voted to re-word their original proposal to end forced busing, and discuss the re-alignment of all school zones in the district.
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“We have to start somewhere,” said Woodland Hills Superintendent Alan Johnson. “Let’s start with having a conversation with the Braddock and even potentially the North Braddock communities, bring the ideas that we’ve developed in terms of how we see the school district moving forward, and it can include this transportation question and allow us to get some community feedback.”
The creation of the Woodland Hills School District spawned protests and required the forced busing of minority students.
But now 32 years later, the district is considering ending that busing and creating a system of neighborhood schools.
That is over the objection of Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who says kids from poorer towns like Braddock will suffer once more.
“You will be recreating some 30 years later, the reason why Woodland Hills was created in the first place,” Fetterman says.
The school board wants to require all Braddock and North Braddock Elementary students to attend Benjamin Fairless Elementary School.
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Currently, many are bused to the Wilkins Elementary in Wilkins Township, where Fetterman says they have access to a high-quality education.
“I think it’s good for kids from our community to interact with kids from Wilkins and vice versa. I think it leads to better educational outcomes.”
Superintendent Alan Johnson says the goal of the merger has been achieved — namely ensuring quality education in all the schools.
“I believe that that’s been corrected. I believe all of our students — in all 12 of our municipalities have access to a good quality education,” Johnson says.
Johnson also says keeping students in their neighborhoods will save on transportation costs and has educational advantages.
“When students and parents are in a closer proximity to the school where they’re going, it’s lot easier to build relations between the school and the family,” Johnson says.
Parents in Braddock are divided over whether the busing should end.
“Braddock needs to stay in Braddock,” one parent said.
“We should all be together, always, blacks, whites, Indians whatever the case may be,” another parent said.