Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Jemon Haskins
Lynchburg, VA - Public school choice is about to be a thing of the past in Virginia.
School choice is a hallmark of No Child Left Behind, but Virginia has now gotten a waiver from the federal government saying Virginia schools can do away with school choice once and for all. But Lynchburg is going to keep choice a bit longer - at least for one year.
The reason is timing. The call that school choice can get tossed in the trash came mid-summer - too late in the game and too close to the new school year for Lynchburg to scrap it.
Public school choice allows students to leave quote "failing schools" for better performing ones. Since it passed in 2001, the federal law's been controversial.
Stacey Felmlee is a Linkhorne parent, PTO president and public choice critic.
"Even though the law may have been designed to be helpful, offering school choice, I think has really exacerbated the disparities in socio-economic class," said Felmlee.
The waiver from the feds ends public school choice in Virginia schools. But it comes just weeks before the new school year. So the Lynchburg School Board voted to keep public school choice for at least this year.
"We felt we needed to make a decision for Lynchburg city families so we agreed several weeks ago to allow the kids to be grandfathered for one year and to provide transportation," said Dr. Scott Brabrand, superintendent of Lynchburg City Schools.
But for students not in school choice now, there is no grandfathering. Public school choice is no more. Felmlee's fine with that. She wasn't a fan of switching schools.
"We had the option to leave, but we stayed. I'm a Linkhorne advocate through and through," said Felmlee.
Critics say school choice pulls talented students out of schools. Lynchburg City Schools demands excellence for all students. And it's entering this school year with a new motto to reflect that high bar.
"Now, we are putting back a tradition of excellence, but adding for all - a tradition of excellence for all," said Brabrand.
One other reason Lynchburg's keeping school choice for this year is cost. A number of mobile units would have to be rented and set up. That, school administrators say, would cost more than the price to bus students under school choice.