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Allen Parents Favor New Plymouth-Canton Redistricting Option

Parents from elementary school support new option that would spare Allen families from changes with new district boundary changes.

parents at a community forum Thursday overwhelmingly supported a new redistricting option for that would spare current Allen families from district boundary changes

The option was the fourth scenario presented by the district as part of a elementary boundaries after closes this year. School board members but spared , a second school that had faced the chopping block, in March. The board is expected to vote on a plan at its April 24 meeting.

Under the three scenarios, Allen families face more drastic changes, as well as , and elementary schools.

At the Thursday forum, held at and attended by about 75 parents, details of the new option were unveiled. While Allen families will remain unaffected under the scenario, the plan affects other elementary buildings in the district. 

With the fourth scenario, which could be adopted along with one of the three existing plans, current Fiegel students displaced by its closure will be sent to three, rather than two elementary schools, with 24 students headed to Allen, 92 to and 162 to .

Several Allen parents took the lectern at the forum to  convince board members to seriously consider the fourth option.

Julie Boerner, a parent of a second-grader at Allen, urged the district to keep the fourth option, but said she believes that decisions need to be made on facts, logic and equality, not emotions.

Mike Fisher thanked the district for “recognizing Allen was disproportionately affected,” and said the fourth option would keep Allen families intact.

Catherine McClain, a Fiegel parent, criticized the complaints about boundary changes after some parents had threatened to pull their students from the district if a plan that favored their school wasn't adopted.

“I don’t have a choice,” she said. “My child’s school is closing. I didn’t get what I wanted, and that’s for Fiegel to stay open.”

A look at redistricting options

Option No. 2

Option No. 2 (an Option No. 1 wasn't presented to the board), makes minimal changes to the Eriksson Elementary boundaries, no changes to , Bentley, , Dodson, , Miller and 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.

However, Option No. 2 makes significant changes to the Allen, Bird, Smith and Isbister elementary boundaries and leaves more than 20 empty classrooms throughout the district.

Option No. 3

Option No. 3's changes mostly affect the northern portion of the district. The revised map, makes minimal changes to the Eriksson boundary and no changes to Field, , Hoben, , Workman, , 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.

4.10.12 Option No. 1

The fourth plan presented to the board, 4.10.12 Option No. 1, addresses boundary concerns for Allen, Fiegel and Hulsing and spares existing Allen families from the effects of the boundary changes. However, teacher numbers also would remain the same with 26 incoming Fiegel students, which could boost class sizes.

Under this scenario, Fiegel students will be sent to three elementary schools, rather than two, with 24 headed to Allen, 92 to Eriksson and 162 to Hulsing. 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.

Board to vote April 24

The board meets at 7 p.m. April 24 at Discovery Middle School, where it is expected to vote on a plan.

Editor's note: A passage in an earlier version of this story indicating Allen Elementary parents had threatened to pull students from Plymouth-Canton Community Schools has been disputed, and the specific reference to Allen parents from that passage has been removed as of 10:30 a.m. A clarification also was added to the story at 12:30 p.m. to indicate that 4.10.12 Option No. 1 is an ancilliary option that would be adopted with one of the three existing plans. Readers had indicated that fact wasn't clear in an earlier version of the story.

CantonParent April 20, 2012 at 06:49 PM
The only real news from the meeting yesterday DID have to do with Allen Elementary school and the one new boundary proposal. I think it is the parents that are creating the drama, not John. He's done a great job of reporting on the issue and get information to us quickly. Who cares if parents did (or didn't) threaten to take their kids to the Charter Schools if the boundaries are changed? It's a legitimate option if someone isn't happy with what is being offered by the Plymouth Canton Schools. I'm not an Allen parent, but I didn't feel there was any negativity towards those parents in the article. If anything, I think the fact that the Allen parents were there and were speaking out about the issue is a positive thing. There were obviously a group of Allen parents photographed in the picture. What's the big deal?
PCCS Mom April 20, 2012 at 06:59 PM
It is true that option 1 does present a more ideal situation for the Allen families and many Allen parents spoke in favor of the plan last night. It is also true that this option will further split Fiegel students. John’s recap looks accurate to me.
Teresa Brooks Jackson April 20, 2012 at 07:09 PM
I didn't say that his reporting was false. I said that it was incomplete. There were only 3 or 4 people (parents and one teacher) who spoke about the Allen proposal. The rest of the 50+ comments were about other schools and boundary issues. The few Allen parents spoke briefly about support of the new proposal. Most of the Allen parents did not know about the proposal and were not in attendance. The picture is misleading because of most of the people pictured are not part of the Allen.
Robert Lord April 20, 2012 at 07:41 PM
CantonParent, did you read the first comment to this article? The one accusing Allen parents of "bullying" the board by threatening to take their kids to charter schools? This was based on an unfortunate, incorrect statement in Mr. McKay's original article. Obviously people took the wrong impression from the original article, and I am glad it has been retracted.
Julie Boerner April 20, 2012 at 07:45 PM
I disagree. Wasn't there a safety discussion regarding the overcrowding in one school and a tornado drill? And there were at least 20 people that spoke regarding no-Allen issues and only 4 that represented Allen. And I care. It is a big deal. I love the PCC schools. When we moved to the Detroit area we bought our house in Canton to attend the public schools. We would never leave and we would not support going to a Charter School.
Teresa Brooks Jackson April 20, 2012 at 07:59 PM
And, I still think (especially with this headline) that it portrays an image of a community meeting in which predominantly Allen parents spoke overwhelmmingly in support of this new proposal. That is just absolutely not correct. Very little time was spent on the proposal and there were very few public comments about Allen. The reality is that this new proposal is a surprise to most of the Allen community.
PCCS Mom April 20, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I support option 2 and am looking forward to the board's final decision on the 24th. John has done a fine job reporting on this sensitive subject. Thank you John.
JB April 21, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Nice way to make kids feel like they are not welcomed. Pathetic
MD April 21, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Allen parents didn't have any negative remarks at the meeting specifically last night, but some of them have at other times. What should matter most is that ALL the kids in the district get the education they deserve and what their parent's tax dollars pay for. I agree that the maps should have been done first, then looked at how and where changes should have be made. If they had done that first maybe everyone would be at the schools closest to them and it would have affected everyone, not just a few schools. Charter schools shouldn't be the only blamed for lowered enrollment, maybe if the district didn't allow "school of choice" within the district. Go to your home school and if you don't like it (or the people you live around), maybe you should move.
Michelle April 21, 2012 at 03:00 AM
I find it perplexing that no attention has been paid to the fact that the adminstration recognized that least one school (Bird, I believe) did not have sufficient space in which the children can take cover in the event of a tornado. In fact, I believe that the exact quote was that they "make it work". While I understand that the parents of the school in question do not want their children to move schools, what about the potential danger if the drill were to actually be a real tornado and you have kids stashed in bathrooms, etc., [possibly without proper adult supervision, due to insufficient space in the area in which the student should be taking cover? The fact that this discussion is focusing on whether the Allen parents or the parents from other schools threatened to move their children to charter/private schools is ridiculous. The focus should be on maximizing our childrens' educational experience and their safety. The rest is gossip. I have to say that I was disappointed that Mr. McKay did not address this issue.
A parent April 21, 2012 at 01:56 PM
It might not have been said at the latest forum, but at the March 13th forum an Allen parent did say if the boundaries do change, she and her husband would send their child to a private school.
Dennis April 21, 2012 at 06:56 PM
I was at the meeting on Thursday. All parents regardless of what school they represented, were exercising their public right to voice their opinion. This helps our school board to make good decisions to support our schools. This wonderful democratic right to express how you feel should be met with thoughtful discussion. I hope the board members will work together, have a thoughtful discussion and remember their orginial mission.
Wendy Arendts Schultz April 21, 2012 at 07:12 PM
With Option 2 we are slated to move from Smith School to Gallimore. Does anyone know if Gallimore would be slated to close in the future? I know they were part of the proposed closing plan with Fiegel. I would be very bummed if we have to move from Smith a school we love to Gallimore only to have to become acclimated there and have to move again if it closes in the future. This would seem like "big picture" poor planning to me.
Michelle April 21, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Wendy - that is a concern that the parents have. Move their children to one school this year (for example, the Allen kids to Hulsing), only to move again in the next year or two. Because of the declining enrollment, it is a safe to assume that there will be another closing. Board members did not address this issue; however, one can assume that since Gallimore was slated to close this year, Gallimore will be targeted again in the future. Seems like the best idea is to cause the least amount of disruption now until a more long term plan can be devised.
A parent April 22, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Didn't anyone find it odd that Board Member Mike Maloney submitted a proposal, when he himself has to vote. Or that a family member of his is a teacher at Allen?
A. Plut April 22, 2012 at 06:38 PM
To Nancy: What is your issue with the TAG program? Almost everyone of your comments (for the last few months) puts down TAG. Do you not believe that all children have a right to get help where needed? I believe that the district has an obligation to teach to each student's learning potential. We offer all kinds of help for kids with learning difficulties such as speech, reading, math. PCCS offers classrooms for kids with autism and other special needs. Gifted kids also have special needs. They do not reach their potential in the standard classroom.
A. Plut April 22, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Are you saying that there are kids that live in the neighborhoods near Dodson that travel 10 miles (or pass four schools) to go to a different school when there are classrooms open at Dodson? Or, If they put TAG at Dodson, they will be kicking out kids that go there and sending them 10 miles away? I have been to every meeting on this issue and that is news to me. Everyone that I have heard talk about having to pass other schools or travel 10 miles have been from the northern end of the district (Bird, Smith, Isbister and Farrand). Also, when you say someone is passing 4 schools to get to their school, it is a bit misleading, The truth is their are 4 schools that are closer to their home, it's not that the school bus is literally driving by 4 other schools first. (i know that they may actually pass 1 school, but not 4). I agree changes do need to be made to relieve the over-crowdedness, but the funny thing is, the parents at the overcrowded schools don't want the change.
A. Plut April 22, 2012 at 11:14 PM
I agree with you that a change needs to be made. The overcrowding is unacceptable.
CantonParent April 22, 2012 at 11:35 PM
You know, when I first starting reading the posts regarding the redistricting, I thought that Nancy was a bit crazy and obsessed with TAG. Now that all of the information is coming out regarding the overcrowding at the northern schools and the lack of space for tornado shelter (are you kidding me?), I realize that she is right. I like the TAG program and I am OK with it expanding it, but why can't it stay at Miller? Dodson IS needed to relieve the overcrowding in the Plymouth schools and is probably the only real solution. Take care of that problem first and then adjust the other schools to find more room at Miller for TAG. She is also correct that the district and the board are not being clear about their priorities and intentions with this process. I have a feeling we're going to be going through all of this again next year and after that and on and on...
A. Plut April 23, 2012 at 12:37 AM
I am all for redistricting and using Dodson for regular classrooms to help with overcrowding, if need be. Fixing the boundaries should be top priority. I just find it interesting that Nancy always makes comments about the TAG program and thinks that it is "probably unconstitutional".
CantonParent April 23, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Haha...."probably unconstitutional". That's cracking me up.
saidmypeace April 23, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Option 4.10.12 does not seem to be in the best interest of the districts goals. Class sizes should not be increased for any school. Period. In order to keep 149 Allen students from moving, this option will increase the class sizes at Hulsing by 2 for 500+ students, create an "island" for the Hulsing attendance boundaries, separate the Fiegel kids into 3 schools instead of 2, as well as increase bus times and transportation costs for the affected Allen and Fiegel kids. At a previous meeting Mr. Maloney made a remark about revisiting the Allen boundaries. I was not aware he had a family member that was a teacher at Allen. I do find it fishy that he recommended to put this option back on the table. Will he recuse himself from this vote? This option affects hundreds more kids in a negative way than the 149 Allen kids that could potentially move and goes against everything the district is trying to accomplish. Having said that, if the 149 Allen kids do move, next year when we are redistricting again these affected Allen kids should not be shuffled again.
A bystander April 23, 2012 at 02:13 PM
On 3-27 Mike Maloney said he appreciates the hardship of accomodating different schools. And it is important to know that we have a structual deficit that has to be balanced and every dollar that we save w/ the closing of a bldg. or reduction in overhead it's going to be dollars going to smaller class sizes or books. BUT NOW he wants to increase overhead by approx. $150,000. annually, and increase class sizes at another school. Mr. Maloney doesn't appreciate the hardship of Allen students possibly moving to another school, he just submits a new proposal
Michelle April 23, 2012 at 06:12 PM
These Allen students are already being bussed to Allen. There is no INCREASE in transportation time with the 4.10.12 option. Feigel students will likely have to be bussed to the school they are finally assigned. Bussing times may increase for these students depending on their proximity to Feigel vs. their proximity to the new school. The board has been asked at community forums to present the numbers for the savings/increase in transportation costs caused by each of the redistricting options. Reducing transportation costs does not seem to be a priority anymore as the board has not responded. As to Maloney presenting this latest option being some sort of conflict, I believe that this criticism is misplaced. I believe that there is at least 1 board member with a child attending a P-CCS school. Even if the child is in middle school, he/she may be affected by the redistricting. Despite requests, there has been no map outlining how the proposed redistricting will affect the middle school feeder patterns. Have you inquired as to whether these board members have initiated any of the plans? There are sound reasons for keeping Allen intact, one of which is the likelinhood of having to move children again soon. All of the plans create/maintain "islands". Finally, the new option can be adopted with option 2, 3, or 4 for a plan that is beneficial and fair for the most students possible. The bottom line is - these proposals make drastic changes without answering important questions.
Dennis April 24, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Allen School has room for more than the 24 children the board propses to send.I believe it could take up to 60 more. Possibly the Fiegel children could be split between Allen and Hulsing. I wonder how much research was put into the plan? The question from Allen parents has always been..why do children need to be displaced to make room for the same amount of children? The administartion has not answered that. I believe that is why Mr. Maloney continues to ask for an answer to that simple question.
Dennis April 24, 2012 at 12:20 AM
If Allen get all of Fiegel's student but the Erikkson end..won't that mean more teachers at Allen? Class size is at 29, 30 in many classes now
A bystander April 24, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Dennis, at looking at the proposals, none of them mentioned that Allen would need more teachers. If they did, I it would be presented as a con, because of the additional expense it would take. The extra teachers for the new proposal are for more than using the extra teachers from Fiegel. For displacing the Allen students I think is all logistics and which is closer for all students. This all could have been taken care of if the Board went with closing 2 schools in the first place.
jones April 25, 2012 at 02:52 AM
So which proposal did they vote on today?
Michelle April 25, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Option 4 and Option 1 passed this evening.
Concerned parent June 15, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Well all is said and done, the Fiegel population has been disbursed and the school closed for elementary use,using thousands of dollars to update for Starkweather. There are more to come so everyone brace yourself. At some point the board will be forced to elect a sweeping redistricting involving all elementary schools. It will become a necessity - and likely at the middle school level too. No one is immune, or should be if it is what needs to be done. The balancing act needs to be handled with more fiscal responsibiltiy, and less political interference properly this year, not in January forward, so there is a rush to make a decision and keep certain parts of our school population happy, as has been done the past two years. Make the tough 5yr plan a reality and we will all have to deal with what is left, or others may opt for a different choice. It is what it is..too bad politics is taking over the needs of the students who are ultimately affected.

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