Clayton Wilcox talks schools at Tiger Bay

10/09/07 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox was the guest speaker at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club this afternoon. One of the things that Wilcox emphasized was the improvement that Pinellas County has made in student graduation rate.

The Pinellas School Board is reorganizing how students will be assigned to schools next year. Currently families can participate in the “school choice” plan, but Wilcox wants to move more toward “neighborhood schools” or what are being called “close to home” schools.

One of the audience members asked Wilcox if there could ever be the possibility of an equitable school system based on neighborhood schools since minorities often live together in neighborhoods.

Wilcox said that it is difficult to place students in schools far from their homes without considering race as a factor.

Sharon Simms questioned Wilcox about the high cost of transporting students to schools outside their neighborhoods. She suggested two alternatives: not providing transportation to students who choose schools far from home or requiring them to use public transportation. Simms said she was satisfied with Wilcox’s answers and that Pinellas is lucky to have him as a superintendent.

Dr. David Maceyleb said he sends his children to private schools because he is concerned that the school system is giving more money to magnet and fundamental schools rather than to neighborhood schools. He thinks that one solution would be vouchers in which taxpayers pay for some children to go to private schools.

The next Suncoast Tiger Bay club meeting is Oct. 24 at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and will feature state Sen. Charlie Justice.

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