Plymouth-Canton Presents New Redistricting Options
After last week's board vote to save Gallimore elementary, district weight new redistricting options.
One week after the Plymouth-Canton Board of Education rejected part of a redistricting proposal by the district that included closing Gallimore Elementary, administrators presented a new set of options for board members to consider during a meeting Tuesday at Pioneer Middle School.
The board had voted March 27 to close Fiegel Elementary in an effort to make best use of the district's available classrooms and save money, but spared Gallimore. Included with that proposal was a set of redrawn district boundaries reflecting the closure of both schools.
With half of that proposal voted down, it was back to the drawing board for administrators to find a map reflecting Fiegel's closure, but with Gallimore remaining open.
Board members are expected to vote on a plan by April 24. Superintendent Jeremy Hughes said the district is already past a deadline it set to put a new redistricting map in place, but he and administrators will work quickly to implement whatever plan the board adopts in time for the 2012-13 school year.
Phil Freeman, the district's assistant superintendent of facilities and operations, said administrators looked at criteria such as student enrollment in each school building and examined neighborhood blocks to determine how many students lived in each area. From this information, they created three options for the board's consideration.
Option No. 2
Freeman said the first option for the board to consider, Option No. 2 (an Option No. 1 wasn't presented to the board), makes minimal changes to the Eriksson Elementary boundaries, no changes to Field, Bentley, Hoben, Dodson, Workman, Miller and Farrand elementary schools, relieves overcrowding at Bird, Smith and Isbister, offers more contiguous school boundaries and moves most of the district's displaced students to buildings closer to their homes.
Option No. 3
Freeman said Option No. 3's changes mostly affect the northern portion of the district. The revised map, he said, makes minimal changes to the Eriksson boundary and no changes to Field, Bentley, Hoben, Dodson, Workman, Miller, Gallimore and Farrand's boundaries, relieves overcrowding at Smith and Isbister, offers contiguous boundaries and leaves room for expansion of the district's talented and gifted (TAG) program and Young Fives and preschool options.
This plan, however, would leave Bird Elementary with portable classrooms to accommodate students, offer "art on a cart" with no dedicated art classroom space and will leave 26 empty classrooms throughout the district.
Option No. 4
The district's third option, Option No. 4, also 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 TAG and offering Young Fives at Gallimore or Hoben and leaves room for preschool in the district.
Option No. 4 leaves both Bird and Smith elementaries with portable classrooms, art on a cart and 19 empty classrooms throughout the district.
Board looks for long-range options
Board member Sheila Paton said while she is glad that several areas will move together with the new maps, she is concerned about the space issues affecting Bird Elementary.
"I'm looking toward the options where we're easing that and we need to take a look at a longer-term option," she said.
Board members saw the proposed maps for the first time Tuesday, but had an opportunity to view the options in advance of the meeting.
Board faces tight deadline in busy April
The board agreed to an April 19 public hearing to allow input from the community about the proposed redistricting maps. The hearing comes during a busy month for the district that is shortened because of next week's spring break. The board already has special meetings planned Thursday to discuss the district's budget and April 17 to discuss the implementation of academies, as well as regular meetings April 24, when the redistricting vote is expected, and April 30.