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Discussion may focus on choice

(ran East, South, Beach and Seminole editions)

School Board member Mary Russell will take on an array of hot topics about educating African-American students at a Monday night meeting.

Among them will be the controversial school choice plan and the possibility it will result in schools operating at less than capacity in black neighborhoods.

Open to the public, the meeting is 7-8:30 p.m. at the James Weldon Johnson Library, 1154 18th Ave. S. The public is encouraged to attend.

The gathering is part of a series sponsored by the African-American Voters Research and Education Committee.

Committee members hope to affect school district policy in several areas, including student achievement, graduation rates and the hiring of black principals and administrators.

The choice plan is expected to underpin much of the discussion.

For example, in a letter to Russell, AAVREC chair Vyrle Davis asked whether the plan will be implemented at the expense of ending opportunities for black students to participate in extracurricular activities.

The committee wants make sure that activity buses will continue to be provided, Davis said.

He also wants Russell to address whether achievement expectations for black students differ from those for white students.