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Panel to delay its plan for schools

A special panel considering changes to the way students are assigned to Boston schools will delay a key vote set for Saturday, after Mayor Thomas M. Menino said parents need more time to learn how the changes might affect their family.

In a letter to the External Advisory Committee Tuesday, Menino urged the panel to put off recommending one of three plans under consideration to the School Committee.

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“This would provide more opportunity for community members to provide feedback on the plans, for EAC members to review analysis, and for the public to use the tools we have created to allow them to see their individualized school choice options under the proposals,” Menino said.

But he urged members to complete their work before the end of this month “so that we can move forward in improving school choice for our students.”

Changing the school assignment system is a priority for Menino, who thinks that having more children who live on the same street attending the same schools would improve the fabric of neighborhoods.

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His letter follows a meeting Monday night at which parents voiced concern that the three proposals could limit access to a good education. They asked the panel to delay the vote.

In a separate letter to the panel, a group of elected officials from Boston also said that more time is needed to weigh the plans.

“I am pleased with the mayor’s move,” Councilor Tito ­Jackson, who signed the letter, said Wednesday. “I believe all information must be readily accessible. The community deserves more of a voice, and to move forward we must put in place a quality improvement plan to give every young person in the city of Boston an equal opportunity to a good school.”

It was unclear Wednesday when the vote would take place.

School officials released the three proposals late last month.

One would create 10 assignment zones that divide the city’s approximately 80 elementary and K-8 schools and its early childhood centers, a proposal that would offer between three and 14 school choices.

The two other proposals, created with assistance from an MIT doctoral student and a professor, call for no zones. ­Instead, a complex algorithm would generate a list of schools that parents can choose from, based on a variety of factors, such as distance from home, school capacity, and MCAS performance.

One of the “no-zone” proposals would guarantee at least six school choices and the other at least nine.

A new student-assignment system is scheduled to take ­effect in September 2014.

Globe correspondent Haven Orecchio-­Egresitz contributed to this report.
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