The attendance boundaries for Cora Kelly Magnet School should be changed to reduce its enrollment by 175, Alexandria school officials proposed last night amid angry protest from parents at the schools that would receive those students.
The redisticting plan would ease overcrowding at Cora Kelly, where a program stressing science and computer science was established in September 1984. Since then, enrollment at the school has swelled from 531 to 636, due largely to growth in the city's Arlandria West section, said James P. Akin, director of research, planning and evaluation for the schools.
Cora Kelly, at 3600 Commonwealth Ave., is in the mostly black neighborhood of Lynhaven.
Magnet schools such as Cora Kelly are usuallly established in predominantly minority neighborhoods and equipped with special programs in science, arts or other subjects as "magnets" to draw white students from other areas.
As of April 30, 8 percent of Cora Kelly's students were white, 69 percent black, 19 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Asian/Pacific Islander and 1 percent American Indian.
According to the redistricting plan, the resulting student body of 461 would be 10 percent white, 77 percent black, 10 percent Hispanic, three percent Asian/Pacific Islander and 1 percent American Indian.
Several Cora Kelly parents said that overcrowding there had strained its teachers and hampered efforts to recruit white students.
"We have to do something to get more white students in the school, or the magnet will self-destruct," agreed School Board member Lynnwood G. Campbell.
According to the plan, the 175 students transferred from Cora Kelly would attend Charles Barrettt, Mount Vernon and Douglas MacArthur elementary schools. Parents of children at those schools packed last night's meeting, and several criticized the proposal angrily.
"You cannot make Cora Kelly work on the backs on the Charles Barrett students," said Mary Reese, chairman of Barrett's PTA.
School Board Chairman Lou Cook said redistricting schools is never an easy or popular task. "I do not like moving children around like they were little boxes; no one up here likes it," she said.
The board is scheduled to vote on the boundary changes June 25.