Plymouth-Canton Board Adopts Redistricting Plans
Board adopts plan that shifts smallest number of students, but risks overcrowding.
Displaced students from Fiegel Elementary, which is closing after this school year, now have a plan in place for the 2012-13 school year.
The Plymouth-Canton school board voted to adopt a redistricting plan that would draw new borders for the district’s elementary buildings and place former Fiegel students. The board voted Tuesday at Discovery Middle School during a meeting that ran about 4 1/2 hours.
The board voted in March to close Fiegel Elementary as part of a plan to "right-size" the district and eliminate unused space. Under the plan adopted by the board Monday, the displaced Fiegel students will be sent to three elementary schools, with 24 headed to Allen, 92 to Eriksson and 162 to Hulsing. With incoming Fiegel students at the three schools, families at adjacent schools will see shifts of their own.
The board adopted Option No. 4, a plan that had been proposed by district administrators as one that keeps most displaced students at schools near their homes, along with Option 1, 4.10.12, an extra option presented days earlier during an April 19 community forum that is compatible with the other three plans and helps preserve at least one school boundary for existing families — Allen Elementary.
Board member Mike Maloney said the combined plans ultimately move the least amount of students.
Maloney downplayed concerns about overcrowding at Hulsing Elementary with the influx of 162 new students, predicting that shifts in enrollment will allow more room at the school.
“With the (incoming) charter schools and the normal downward population trend, we’re going to have more capacity than we predicted,” he said.
Board President John Barrett, who voted against both plans and favored Option No. 3, a plan that relieved overcrowding at Bird, Smith and Isbister elementary schools, said projections about declines in enrollment because of the area’s charter schools aren’t based on hard data.
Phil Freeman, the district's assistant superintendent for facilities and operations, said if the school finds itself in a situation where it is over capacity, students will be shifted to nearby buildings.
Barrett also objected to the introduction of Option 1, 4.10.12 the previous week.
“It was introduced so late in the game, it doesn’t give the public sufficient time to scrutinize it,” he said.
Parent Irene Fletcher of Plymouth agreed.
“It’s impossible for the board to predict how many want to attend charters,” she said. “I don’t want to be part of a moving target.”
Board members Sheila Paton and Barry Simescu voted against Option No. 4, but supported Option 1 4.10.12.
Board rejects administrative recommendation
In adopting Option No. 4 and Option 1 4.10.12, board members rejected the administration’s recommendation to adopt Option No. 2, which Superintendent Jeremy Hughes said relieves overcrowding.
Board member Mark Horvath said he felt Option No. 2 would be just a temporary fix.
“We’re going to be doing this again in 6-8 months” if the board adopted the plan, he said.
Plans at a glance
Option No. 4
Option No. 4 makes minimal changes to the Eriksson boundary and no changes to Field, Bentley, Hoben, Dodson, Workman, Miller, Gallimore, Farrand, Bird, Smith and Isbister's boundaries, and a majority of displaced students will attend schools closer to their homes. The program also offers room for expanding the district’s talented and gifted (TAG) program and offering Young Fives at Gallimore or Hoben and leaves room for preschool in the district.
This option, however, leaves both Bird and Smith elementaries with portable classrooms, art on a cart and 19 empty classrooms throughout the district.
Option 1 4.10.12
Option 1 4.10.12, which the board adopted in addition to Option No. 4, addresses boundary concerns for Allen, Fiegel and Hulsing and spares existing Allen families from the effects of the boundary changes.
Hulsing's classroom count would increase by two, possibly increasing staffing needs and transportation times increase both for Fiegel students headed to Hulsing and existing Allen students.