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Winchester Schools Plan on Redistrcting

The School District held the first public hearing on the redistricting of the elementary schools.

at Winchester schools. And with a set to be completed by September 2013, the Winchester School Department has

“No decisions about redistricting has been made yet,” said Superintendent William McAlduff. “But we need to address the serious space and overcrowding issues at our elementary schools.”

According to McAlduff over the last 15 years the district has seen a 33 percent increase in elementary school enrollment, going from 3,200 students to 4,400.

McAlduff said that there are four reasons why the department is looking to redistrict now:

  • Enrollment growth
  • Overcrowding and the loss of specialist space in core classrooms at Ambrose, Lincoln and Muraco.
  • The new Vinson-Owen school, which will have six more classrooms and 120 more students.
  • Administration relocating to the Parkhurst school in 2013-14, freeing up three more classroom for 60 more students at Lynch.

The district held the first public hearing on the redistricting plan, and parents from across Winchester expressed their concerns and ideas regarding the School Department’s decisions.

During the hearing, the committee suggested four possible models:

  • Choice: District assigns students to elementary schools based on space considerations and family preferences.
  • Grade-leveled: District assigns students to elementary schools based on grade level.
  • Neighborhood: District assigns students to elementary students to elementary schools based on geography.
  • A combination of different models.
Model Advantages Disadvantages Choice Model

Sustainable and allows for future growth.

Supports equitable class size, resource distribution.

No bussing costs.

Shares family investment and engagement across town.

Not simple to administer.

Does not promote walking.

Breaks up neighborhoods.

 

Grade-levled

Supports equitable class size, resource distribution.

Grade level conentration = fewer staffing increases, efficiency of grade-level resources.

Promotes greater uniformity of program within grade levels across schools, less comparison.

 

Reduces older/younger interaction.

Increased costs - facilities and moving.

increased transitions.

Transportation challenges.

Reduces community building.

Neighborhood Model

Keeps neighborhoods together.

Clear and expected/traditional model.

Fewer transportation challenges.

Older/younger interaction.

Least sustainable.

Decreased grade-level program consistency.

Enrollment increases = staffing increases.

Challenges equity of facility with geographic parameters.

Those in attendance then got an opportunity to discuss redistricting. One group of parents who live along Westland Avenue and call themselves the “Westland Walkers” told the committee that keeping “walkable zones” in place should be a priority.

Another parent, who has children at , said she would be open to the choice option. However, she said that people’s perception of Lynch is that it has a higher number of ELL students, students with IEPs and with it failing to meet annual yearly progress (AYP), she wondered how many residents would pick that school.

Other parents were concerned about having a student needing to switch schools in fifth grade due to redistricting and then changing schools the following year as they moved on the

One parent told the Superintendent that if he knew his vote to build a new school would have allowed the town to redistrict he would not have voted in favor of the project.

According to Superintendent McAlduff, while the School Committee will make the final decision on redistricting, there will be plenty of more chances for residents to discuss their ideas, issues and concerns with redistricting.

“The goal is for us to keep this as simple as possible,” McAlduff said. “We’re looking at this issue thoroughly. This isn’t something we didn’t know about. We’ve been talking about redistricting for three years.”

To find out more info. on redistricing you can click here.

BAV January 19, 2012 at 11:59 AM
It was asked and said at the meeting that the final decision was in the hands of the school committee, and that no public vote would take place on this matter. As such, the only direct vote we get is for the school committee members themselves. Something to keep in mind when voting.
Jean January 19, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Our kids attended a K-2 lower elementary and 3-5 upper elementary when we lived in PA. I don't recall any big issues with transition. It was nice for the second graders who got a taste of being the leaders in a school at a young age. I remember my daughter leading a $2K fundraiser as a second grade student--very empowering! In the school choice model, does "no bussing" listed under "advantages" mean that parents are going to assume the transportation responsibilities?
Zoe January 19, 2012 at 05:42 PM
BAV brings up a good point! Have the School Committee Members weighed in, individually, on this topic yet?
JT January 19, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Where does the candidate running for an upcoming vacant School Committee seat weigh in on this?
Suburbanmama January 20, 2012 at 01:04 AM
One of the reasons we moved to Winchester was so that our kids could walk to school. It should definitely be a priority in redistricting. It's healthier for our families and better for the environment!
CRB January 20, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Jean - Yes, if a parent chooses to send their student to school more than 2 miles from their home, it is assumed that the district would not be responsible for their transportation/bussing. Zoe - Two School Committee members serve on the Superintendent's redistricting ctee: Michael Schindelman (Ambrose parent) and Sarah Girotti ( Lincoln/HS parent). Cindy Bohne, who is running for the open school ctee seat being vacated by Sarah Girotti is currently the co-chair of the redistricting committee.
Susan Verdicchio January 23, 2012 at 06:05 PM
The redistricting committee website has a place for community comments, and the calendar there shows the committee meets twice a month. The process of deciding among the 3 options outlined in the article is just getting started.

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