After years of debate, Pinellas County School Board members voted to extend the feeder pattern from Douglas L. Jamerson Jr. Elementary School, in St. Petersburg, to Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School for one more year.
The decision allows Jamerson’s fifth-graders this year to graduate and get a guaranteed seat at the coveted middle school. After that, however, the feeder pattern will be eliminated.
School board member Terry Krassner brought the amendment to the board during its Tuesday meeting, although the board originally was expected to vote on doing away with the feeder pattern after this school year .
Krassner originally proposed extending the pattern for another two years, which would have allowed this year’s fourth- and fifth-graders to graduate to Marshall without going through the application process.
The school board began discussing the problem of allowing a non-fundamental school to feed into a fundamental school in 2010, so Krassner argued that students who were in kindergarten when parents first learned the pattern may change should still get to go to the school they were originally promised.
Jamerson is the district’s only non-fundamental school in which students can automatically get a seat at a fundamental school without applying and being placed on a waiting list.
Board members argued that the feeder pattern wasn’t fair to other students, but hundreds of parents spoke out at school board meetings and through emails, petitions and phone calls, saying had they known their students wouldn’t be automatically enrolled at Marshall they could have enrolled them elsewhere.
Krassner’s original proposal didn’t fly with board members Robin Wikle, Peggy O’Shea, Janet Clark and Rene Flowers, but after the proposal was amended to a one-year extension, Flowers and Clark changed their minds.
“But please take that guarantee out of your brochure,” Flowers asked Jamerson parents.