I received an e-mail from a parent who asked me if the district might be hiring an outside firm to create the new assignment plan. My first instinct was to say no. The Board hasn't in the (recent) past.
But this is a Board and Superintendent who used a lot of outside help in their audits that were done this year. Could they be thinking along those lines for the assignment plan?
The parent sent me a URL for a company that works on assignment plans. It's called the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice. I only browsed the site but saw some interesting reading there. They created plans for NYC, Boston and Portland, Oregon. Of particular interest is their publications page.
What I told this parent is that it might be a good idea but with some major caveats. One, where would the money come from to hire them? The Board just gave the Superintendent a raise and passed a budget that they can't sustain. There is no extra money. Well, maybe the Alliance would pay or some other entity.
Two, my experience is that when the district hires somebody, the staff tells the company want they want. In this case, a plan has to be crafted that works for parents and the district. There cannot be a show of "community engagement" when the company and our district's staff already know the outcome and are guiding that community engagement towards it. If a company were hired, it would have to be working towards genuine consensus.
Maybe I can ask the Portland PTA Council what they thought of what Portland ended up with and how well this company worked for their district.