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Plymouth-Canton Board Adopts Redistricting Plans

Board adopts plan that shifts smallest number of students, but risks overcrowding.

Displaced students from , which is closing after this school year, now have a plan in place for the 2012-13 school year.

The 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 during a meeting that ran about 4 1/2 hours.

The board 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 , 92 to and 162 to . 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 , and 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 , , , , , , , , 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.

CantonParent April 25, 2012 at 05:04 PM
They just posted the video of the Board meeting last night at: http://pccs.pegcentral.com/. If you weren't there, take a look and make some decisions when it's time to vote for new board members.
frank April 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Name one person on the board that currently does not have a child in an elementary school or one that attended one. Your argument isnt valid. They all have a stake in these schools. Can you honestly tell me that option isnt the best? Why tear up a school to move the same number of kids out that they wanted to move in. Why was Allen the only one to get carved up, while the others stayed the same? This option should have been the first option they came up with.
frank April 25, 2012 at 05:16 PM
The distance between Allen/Fiegel and Fiegel/Hulsing is almost equal. Specifically the townhome area, its almost the same distance. Allen has very little extra space, Hulsing was less than 50% full. So why would anyone think it was a good idea to add them to Allen instead of Hulsing?
saidmypeace April 25, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Frank and DownUpside1 my posts are referring to the fact that the administration didn't even recommend this option. They basically threw it in the trash. For whatever reason this option will raise class sizes (which was promised not to happen) or cost the entire district $150,000. That $150,000 comes out of everyones pocket. Class sizes should not be raised for any school. Apparently there is a difference between the two populations since that is the information provided in the proposals. Maybe the board should have explained further why there is a difference. I would imagine Hulsing would welcome the Fiegel or Allen kids equally and are just happy their school will remain open since it was on the chopping block with Gallimore at one point. Please don't start another "those kids" issue. The Fiegel community has been through enough and doesn't deserve the term. Our district is in a multi million dollar deficit. We were told years ago we had to do something harsh and quick to be profitable again. Increasing class size, spending additional funds and shipping kids twice as far as they need to go "just because" is not going to help our district. Children should go to the school closest to their home whenever possible.
pccs dad April 25, 2012 at 05:32 PM
My understanding was that Plante Moran advised closing more than just one elementary school was necessary to fully address the overcrowding and budget problems of the district (someone tell me if I am wrong). When the board refused to follow PM's recommendation, that meant that we were virtually assured of going through this process again next year. Given this situation, it does not seem in any way "irresponsible" to go with Option 4. Rather, it appears the most prudent thing to do at this point. Calling those voting for Option 4 "irresponsible" was a sign that someone is not willing to fully engage in a reasonable and civilized discussion of the options, for whatever reason. In my view, the majority of the board simply decided they weren't going disrupt the lives of many students, parents and teachers just to turn around again next year and do more moving and shifting. Looking forward to round 2 next year and hoping all board members will be willing to engage in an appropriate examination of the options without name-calling.
CantonParent April 25, 2012 at 05:39 PM
@pccs dad- The key element in your comment is "when the board refused to follow PM's recommendations". Why did they bother with this whole exercise at all? It was "irresponsible" to get the whole district into an uproar, spend hours and hours on maps and budget evaluations, spend more hours on board and budget meetings, and then throw a band-aid on the problems and shove them off for next year. How many families are just waiting for the ax to fall next year? It will be almost impossible to move to the Charters once they're full, so apply now.
saidmypeace April 25, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Frank, If we want to be exact it is 1.3 miles from Fiegel to Allen. It is 2.7 miles from Fiegel to Hulsing. Children should go to the school closest to their home. It is not happening now and we had a good opportunity to fix that problem for the entire district for next year. The board chose to string this out for however many years and cost the district more money it doesn't have.
A parent April 25, 2012 at 05:53 PM
The amount of Allen students that were to go to Hulsing was approx. 140. It was said that Hulsing could take up to 150 students. Don't forget you have all day kindergarten and that takes another room
PCCS Mom April 25, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I was very uncomfortable with the "irresponsible" comment at last night's meeting. It was not appropriate. The decision has been made and it is time for us to move on. I can only hope that the board will not send my Fiegel child to a 3rd elementary school next year when we do this again.
DownUpside1 April 25, 2012 at 06:06 PM
@saidmypeace - I have seen no one start a 'those kids' into this discussion. I just refuse to see adding 150+ students from Fiegel to Husling as a 'con' simply because the administration did not choose the same negative language (con) when proposing transferring 150+ students from Allen to Hulsing. It was nothing short of a propaganda tactic to put it in a negative light in regards to Fiegel and be silent on it in regards to Allen. I would not say 'those kids' since my neighborhood is currently zoned to Fiegel and is now zoned to Hulsing. Fiegel families are my friends and neighbors. I've had kids at Fiegel. Some of the same teachers are still there - they are awesome! But, I always thought it was extremely unfair to ask such a large percentage of the Allen population to make room for us. Had the administration been willing to redraw ALL lines across the district, people would have been unhappy, but it could be argued that we were really redistributing correctly. But to ask only 1 school to make such an effort at redistribution was nothing but unfair!
Jbooger97 April 25, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Amen!
DownUpside1 April 25, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Where was it said that Hulsing could take up to 150 students? The official study showed Hulsing has 21 classrooms and 349 students this year (it did not specify how many of these were K). 349 students + 162 Fiegel students = 511 full day students next year My math shows no overcrowding (511 students/28 per class =18.25 classrooms)
pccs dad April 25, 2012 at 06:39 PM
@CantonParent--If I read your comment right, I have to agree with you. If the board was not really serious about fixing the problem this year, why even dig into it. The board could have just said, we need another year to get better data to make a good decision. But then, this seems to be what the board did last year. Having said that, once the board decides to only close one school (essentially kicking the can down the road), and you know you are going to do this again next year, it seems best to minimize the pain this year. Hence the decision to go with Option 4.
CantonParent April 25, 2012 at 07:26 PM
I agree, pccs dad. I had no idea that the Board was entertaining the idea of closing another school next year. If this is indeed a strong possibility, Option 4 was probably the correct choice. Next year this nightmare starts all over again.
DG April 25, 2012 at 09:33 PM
@ Frank Nice to know were all being lump into one stereotypical package. And that the district and administration have their act together enough to create some grant scheme to only put certain "types" of kids in certain schools.
Karin Young & Jennifer D'Angelo April 25, 2012 at 10:36 PM
On a slightly different note: We wanted to spread the word about the fact that the District is offering half-day kindergarten on a limited basis. The following notice was sent out late today to some people. Half Day Kindergarten Registration: April 26 & 27 Submitted by Linda Koelzer on Wed, 04/25/2012 - 4:19pm Plymouth-Canton Community Schools will be offering Half-day Kindergarten this fall P-CCS will open two sections (one morning and one afternoon) of half-day kindergarten at Hoben Elementary. Each section will consist of 26 students. Parents will be responsible for transportation to and from school. Parents who are interested in half-day kindergarten will have the opportunity to register their child on April 26 and 27. The registrations will be accepted from 1:00pm-4:00pm on Thursday and 8:00am-11:00am on Friday. Both days of registrations will be held at the E.J. McClendon Educational Center located at 454 S. Harvey in Plymouth. Places will be secured in this program on a first-come, first-served basis. Parents should bring an original birth certificate, immunization records, vision screening, and two proofs of residency (utility bill, lease, home insurance policy or closing statement). While your registration will not be complete without these documents, you will be able to reserve your child’s place in this program with partial documentation.
DG April 26, 2012 at 01:47 AM
I don't thinks it's a different note. It's a direct result of the board approving a plan that cannot accomidate all day Kindergarten in three of their elementary schools. That comes out to about another $100,000 in funding they just lost.
Parent April 26, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Option 4 would have been a band-aid fix for the next year if it included deferring all day Kindergarten too, but adding all day K it will only compound the problem at overcrowded schools. Bird is already using 2 portables, I can not understand how they will come up with 2 additional rooms to accommodate all day K. The current situation at Bird may have been considered tolerable but with the addition of all day K it is terribly concerning. Speaking as a Bird family who was not being moved, we did not mobilize b/c the stated goals of the study were to have addressed this situation - and I was told by the administration it would. As time went on, parents did not feel comfortable publicly countering other Bird parents, friends and families of our children's classmates. Unfortunately this whole process has put neighborhoods against neighborhoods across the district. "The administration needs to either erase the boundaries entirely and start over or make a big change to the structure of grade levels in schools (K-4, 5-6, 7-8)" I completely agree - However, if the board got this far and could not make a decision, I have NO confidence they will be able to make any decision in the future that will address the situation in a comprehensive manner.
jones April 26, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Wow all this makes me glad that my kids are going to the charter school. After putting up with all the craziness of closing Fiegel last year (all to have the board keep it open for one more year) makes me glad to know that I am not apart of all this mess. I can say that as a parent who moved to Canton for the good schools I am very disappointed and not impressed with what I saw in the public schools. Two more charter schools are opening in September in the area and now I know why they have a waiting list of hundreds of kids for each grade.
Mike Andro April 26, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Good luck to you. I am a proud PCCS parent.
Parent of 5 April 26, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I do not see any advantage in charters schools and would not send my children to one. The board is so fearful of losing students to charter schools, they are driving them in handfuls due to their incompetence and the fear of the 'Bird' groups. This school board is the biggest advertisment for charter schools. Charter school folks must be sitting back and laughing - they have no PR work to do.
CantonParent April 26, 2012 at 03:07 PM
The advantages to Charter Schools are rigorous academics, consistency, controlled class size, moral focus, and no fear of being moved from one school to another. You are right, the incompentence of the board is making the Charters look like the best option out there. Very sad.
DG April 26, 2012 at 03:11 PM
You are absolutely correct. The advantage of a charter school is you know exactly where your child is going until high school. What the board has done is create a large cloud of uncertainty. I really don't understand why all those parent were clapping when option 2 was shot down. It was obvious from the discussion that they are going to get put thru the exact same process again next year. Next year they will have 40+ extra classrooms. Need to close 2 schools, comprise on one and have to redistrict. By that time another charter schools will pop up because are at least 400 plus people tring to get out that could not. So they will do minimal redistricting because the following year they will have to shut another school.... sound familiar.
jones April 26, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I have not found that the charter school is as rigorous as people say. I think that the moral focus is good, shouldn't we encourage morals. However, the moral focus is not a big part of the curriculm either. What I see most is that the kids don't have as much down time in their day. This is definetly something that my children miss. Not having down time means that the class is usually in controll and therefore I don't hear of all the bullying, gossiping, and idle time issues that we faced at Fiegel. I am very happy with my charter school and yes I do have to commit to driving them every day but that is a commitment I am willing to make for such a great education. I don't feel like either of my kids are being pushed too hard to learn more than they can handle.
K. Sose April 28, 2012 at 06:35 AM
So you're judging the quality of education in PCCS by the actions of the board. I don't think any of them are designing curriculum or teaching classes. I've spent time in several elementary and middle schools in pccs and can tell you that they are all top notch quality. I also spent time in a charter school (mind you it was in Taylor) and I can tell you that it couldn't hold a candle to the quality of PCCS.
Betty April 28, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Interesting comment since at a charter school there is not publicly elected board. All this valuable input and a democratic process is non-existent. Very little public oversight considering it's publicly funded.
ricardo April 29, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I agree about the advantages of the Charter Schools in this area. I would suggest that the parents who are bashing these Charter Schools attend an open house. They might be singing a different tune afterwards.
K. Sose April 30, 2012 at 02:25 AM
So why don't theses "wonderful" charter schools open a high school. Oh wait there's no money to be made operating a high school so they won't.
CantonParent April 30, 2012 at 11:04 AM
I understand that there is a Charter high school in the works for the west side of Canton.
DG April 30, 2012 at 02:37 PM
You are correct the Elemenary schools subsidize High Schools, however I'm aware of 2 Charter High Schools that are actively looking at sites in the area.

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