Friday, March 24, 2017

Revised schedule for redistricting forums announced

Three more opportunities for the community to weigh in on a school redistricting proposal in Manchester have been scheduled. Superintendent Bolgen Vargas and Board of School Committee member Leslie Want are presenting the components of the first phase of redistricting to address some of the school district’s enrollment and space utilization challenges.

Public forums are being held over the next two weeks at the schools where many families would be impacted if the changes are implemented. Hallsville, Weston and Wilson elementary schools have been added to schedule of dates on April 3 and 5.

The Manchester Board of School Committee voted last November to approve several parameters to guide Dr. Vargas in the redistricting process:
     Use a phased-in approach that starts with a feeder pattern;
     Be mindful of budget implications; and
     Consider external and internal community engagement

The proposal includes a revised feeder pattern among Manchester’s schools, determining which middle and high schools a student will attend based on his or her elementary school. While the current feeder pattern splits groups of students from some single elementary schools between multiple secondary schools, the proposed changes streamline neighborhood school assignments so that all graduating students from one elementary school move on to the same middle and high schools.

The proposed changes impact the highest numbers of students at Bakersville, Hallsville, Weston and Wilson elementary schools. Other elementary schools, including Gossler Park, Northwest, and Parker-Varney on the West side,  Green Acres, Highland-Goffe’s Falls, Jewett Street, Smyth Road, and Webster, would see very little or no change in their students’ subsequent middle and high schools.

“An established, clear feeder pattern system fosters better continuity of programs and supports as students proceed from one grade level to the next,” said Dr. Vargas. “It also provides more predictability, based on school instead of street address, for families as their children move through the district.”
The exception to the single feeder school system in the proposal is Beech Street School, where half the students will attend Southside Middle School and the other half McLaughlin, as they do now. Under the new proposal, all former Beech Street students from both of those middle schools will reunite at Central High School.   

Another proposed change affects a small group of students who currently attend McDonough Elementary School but live on and around the north end of Mammoth Road closer to Smyth Road Elementary School.  Assigning those children to Smyth Road will eliminate a bus route and allow class sizes to be more evenly distributed.

The public forums will provide feedback and input in advance of a final proposal that will be recommended to the full Board of School Committee for approval. Any plan that is approved will be implemented in September 2017. The full, updated schedule of the public forums is available online at mansd.org.

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