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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 by the district that included closing , administrators presented a new set of options for board members to consider during a meeting Tuesday at .

The board had voted March 27 to close 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 Elementary boundaries, no changes to , Bentley, , Dodson, , Miller and elementary schools, relieves overcrowding at , Smith and , offers more contiguous school boundaries and moves most of the district's displaced students to buildings closer to their homes.

On the downside, Freeman said, Option No. 2 makes significant changes to the , Bird, and Isbister elementary boundaries and leaves more than 20 empty classrooms throughout the district.

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, , Hoben, , Workman, , 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 , as well as regular meetings April 24, when the redistricting vote is expected, and April 30.

John McKay (Editor) April 05, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Please try to keep the tone civil here... everyone can state their case without belittling others.
Jennifer April 05, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I also live south of Cherry Hill and my daughter is registered for kindergarten next year. We have heard off and on for the last two years about Fiegel being on the "chopping block". It created fear in a lot of parents to the point they put their children into academies and PCCS lost out on a lot of good students. I am for one glad that they finally made their decision so we can move forward and just maybe some of those students will come back to the district. I agree with a few people where the school district has handled this badly by talking about things and not following through. It's rough on families and that is what PCCS is suppose to be about, family.
PCCS Mom April 05, 2012 at 09:06 PM
If our school board is reserving a block of classrooms for the TAG program at Dodson that will attract new students to our district and provide educational opportunities for our existing population so our children can reach their full potential then the board has my support. Additionally, if a Title One classification will result in additional funding to advance the academic achievement of our children then the board is wise to pursue that as well. If the extra revenue results in student, teacher and program retention then I find it difficult to find fault with the school board’s actions. I take pride in belonging to a district that is always looking for ways to improve. If the process is working we will see academic improvement in all of our schools and we will not be wasting educational dollars on facilities that aren’t filled or are underutilized. Maybe it isn’t this simple.
Dennis April 06, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Allen School will be losing approx 160 children to make room for Fiegel children. In every scenerio, children being moved are making room for full day Kindergarten expansion. Reasonable moves. Allen is the only school where children are being displaced. We ask why? Couldn't a neighborhood who has been at Allen over 25 years stay and Fiegel's population be split beteween Hulsing and Allen? There must be at least 160 seats at Hulsing that were going to be for the Pickwick/Fox Creek sub. Can any one explain this to the children who are being asked to leave? We currently have 4 empty classroom for full day Kindergarten and 60 to 90 Fiegel students. There is never a mention made at the board meetings that Allen also has a working portable that is used 2 and a half days a week for music. That could be a classroom. Why aren't all the facts out there for Allen?
DownUpside1 April 06, 2012 at 01:49 AM
@Dennis - well said! I hope the board and administration will answer these questions. I'm having a hard time believing that there isn't some sort of agenda to dismantle Allen as it is now. They seem to be focused on presenting multiple boundary options to relieve overcrowding at Bird, Smith and Isbister but are only prepared to present 1 for redistributing Fiegel students. I find it interesting that it was proposed to redistribute the Gallimore population over 4 schools had it closed, but redistribution of Fiegel students has always been proposed only to 2 schools - displacing half of Allen's population.
PCCS Mom April 06, 2012 at 10:23 AM
I agree with you Dennis that it is hard to see a neighborhood that has been with Allen for over 25 years be moved to Hulsing. The children at Fiegel have been together for many years as well. The northern Fiegel children are being split from their classmates that are in the southern end of the district. If we split the northern Fiegel population again between Hulsing and Allen there is a possibility that some of these kids would not recognize many faces in their classroom or school next year. This would make it even more difficult for them to successfully transition as we right-size our schools.
Maddiex April 06, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Nancy Conzeman you are sounding like an absolute nut. How does expanding TAG benefit the Superintendent? You have no idea of what is involved in making these decisions, no experience in running a school district, and a very short-sided view. What do you have against the TAG program? Live and let live Nancy. It isn't all about you and what you want.
Maddiex April 06, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I'll say it again....you are nuts. Call the district and ask for these "roll up" numbers you want. No one is hiding any numbers. I am convinced that if you saw every number and had everyone of your questions answered you still wouldn't be satisifed. I think it is YOU who has an agenda.
DownUpside1 April 06, 2012 at 07:43 PM
@Maddiex - My theory: the administration wants to dismantle Allen (because its proximity to Fiegel) to keep the preponderance of Fiegel Title 1 students together creating a Title 1 school. Quote from http://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-methods-tips/11105-basics-of-title-1-funds/ The basic principles of Title 1 state that schools with large concentrations of low-income students will receive supplemental funds to assist in meeting student’s educational goals. Low-income students are determined by the number of students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program. For an entire school to qualify for Title 1 funds, at least 40% of students must enroll in the free and reduced lunch program. END That's supplemental funds beyond the funding received for individual Title 1 students. I couldn't grasp why a presentation a few weeks back tracked free/reduced lunches at schools in the east. Now I see they were trying to manipulate population to reach a Title 1 school classification. Gallimore's proposal included redistribution of students over 4 schools. Briefly, it was proposed to redistribute Fiegel students to 3 schools, but redistribution into 2 schools is more common. Other current proposals relieve overdrowding. In Allen's case, half of the current population is being told to go elsewhere so that the northern Fiegel population is left together. Why won't they come right out and say they want to dismantle current Allen to create a Title 1 school?
DownUpside1 April 06, 2012 at 07:57 PM
@PCCS Mom - do you realize that the Allen students who would be moving are not necessarily going to see many familiar faces at their new school (they are losing daily contact with a large portion of their current friends as well)? I would hope that you don't really mean to imply that somehow their change is less traumatic, or should leave their parents less worried than the Fiegel parents.
A parent April 06, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Being a Title One School (over 40%) isn't a bad thing. It then enables all students in that school to have access to learning tools otherwise not offered in the classroom. So if a non title one student has trouble in reading/math they then will be given additional help to help them overcome the obstacle the are having.
jones April 06, 2012 at 09:21 PM
I totally agree. I am not a low income family and my kids have both used title one assistance in PCCS. One for speech and one for reading. This is not a problem that will affect the other kids. It is not a disease. They get one on one help and they are not a problem to the teacher or the class. This stigma of title one kids is not what everyone is making it out to be. These are just kids and they are not going to bring a school down.
DownUpside1 April 06, 2012 at 09:44 PM
I am not against Title 1 schools. I am not against the district creating a Title 1 school. I am against the administration not informing us of their intention to do it. Why shouldn't this kind of a decision be open to public comment?
PCCS Mom April 07, 2012 at 02:28 AM
DownUpside1, it was not my intention to imply that this change will be less traumatic for a child that attends Allen. The children from both schools will be impacted by redistricting equally. It isn’t as simple as dividing the Fiegel kids and placing them in open seats across our district. As you pointed out, all children need and deserve equal consideration when the school boundaries are redrawn and each parent will worry about how well their child will adapt. Regardless of the board’s decision, I wish nothing but the best for your family.
Mom15 April 09, 2012 at 09:40 PM
The problem is that we (at Allen) pitch in a bit extra to help out those who need help. When you upset the balance that we have we will no longer be able to do that. It is not my understanding that Title 1 funds can be used for boxes of tissues, pencils, field trips and the like. It is more for literacy programs. Additionally, you should probably know that in preparation of turning Allen into a Title 1 school, our new principal has started new rules already - until recently our kids lost the recess if they high 5'd their friend. If it will be so wonderful - fill out a parent request form to join us!
Maddiex April 10, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Nancy, you called the superintendent an idiot, and said he should be ashamed of himself for trying to expand the TAG program. This is a program that, if expanded, can attract students from charters and private schools, and many many families would like the opportunity to participate. Dr. Hughes has twice been the interim superintendent of the State of Michigan, the superintendent of Dearborn Public Schools, Haslett Schools, and now P-CCS, a district with more than 18,000 students. I wish you would tell us how many school districts you have run, I am sure you know much better than he does what needs to be done.
close my account April 10, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Maddiex, I referred to the plan as idiotic because there is not a single scenario that moves neighborhood kids into the second newest and largest school in the most populous part of the district. I don't agree with you that a taxpayer has to have run a school district in order to have an opinion about what the school district does. But you should feel free to follow your own rules and refrain from expressing your opinion or commenting on others opinions, unless of course, you yourself have run a school district (in which case, knock yourself out).
Mom15 April 10, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Maddiex - It's so wonderful that you have soldiers and senior citizens at your elementary school! I had no idea and am truely amazed - Oh wait I looked at your previous posts and noticed that your kids aren't even in elementary school their in high school, yet you post nasty replies to anyone who tries to make a point. Do you work for the school board or the district? I don't think you'll win many people over with your constant name calling and off topic replies. Do you have an informative answer to our school's new no touching policy? Personally, it makes me sad. I can't wait to hear what you think. I'm sure you'll answer.
frank April 10, 2012 at 09:21 AM
Ill name one school that has no parental involvement, a non existent PTO, and kids doing community service. Its Fiegel.
DownUpside1 April 10, 2012 at 11:32 AM
I agree with Frank. Fiegel's PTO tries to schedule events for students and families. They have to cancel more than they hold because of lack of parent volunteers. Let me be very clear. I am not sying that no Fiegel parents volunteer. I am saying that not enough volunteer for many of the events that the PTO wants to schedule. A dominant culture of "I don't have the time" or "I don't want to make the time." has a HUGE impact on opportunities.
A parent April 10, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Mom15 you are correct. Title One funds are for educational resourses. I am sure that at most if not all the elementary schools in the district parents donate kleenex, wipes, pencils, as well as their time. My child (who is not Title One) benefited from a reading program that was done at home. It was a wonderful tool, that if our school was not a Title One, my child would not have had this extra help. It comes across that you believe your childs school is far superior than the rest of the elementary schools in the district.
DownUpside1 April 10, 2012 at 03:17 PM
The proposed changes to Allen remove a large amount of parents involved in the Allen PTO and fundraisers to replace them with a group of parents who have shown over the years that they would prefer (shown overall - not 100%) not to be involved. That is the biggest reason why I bellieve it would be in everyone's best interest to divide the Fiegel students among more than 2 schools - insert them into existing populations instead of insisting they remain more or less in the same population that has a proven track record of low parental involvment.
frank April 10, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Allen is not a full Title 1 school. Anything over 40% of the population qualifing for free or reduced lunch makes your school full Title 1. The board has already stated that they do not want Allen being a full Title 1, but their actions have failed to prove otherwise. Hey Maddiex if being a full Title 1 like Allen will be is so great, why arent any Bird families using school of choice and moving into Allen, or in the past Fiegel, when their school is over capacity??? I already have proved you wrong twice now, should you keep talking or is it time to shut it down.
frank April 10, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Fiegel has a high population of kids whose parents are gone when they leave for school and not there when they get home. Many are on their own to make it on time to school, which doesnt happen ever often. Low income, low involvement and low test scores....yep just like every other school in the district. I cant wait to rub these posts everyones faces when its the Allen kids no one wants. Because its going to be Allen to close next.
mom0717 April 10, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Nancy, as a parent of one of the Smith children potentially moving to Gallimore, I would have to disagree with your distance calculations. We are actually closer to Gallimore and even the southeastern piece of the block moving is only .2 miles closer to Dodson. Remember, we are centrally located on the western edge of the district between Warren and Joy Rds. Last time I looked, Gallimore is located between Warren and Joy. While we aren't thrilled to be moving from Smith, we understand the space issues on the north side and appreciate the fact that the district worked very hard to keep our "block" of kids together. Option 2 will result in the Smith student population splitting into three pieces. Roughly 1/3 will move to Isbister, a little over half will stay at Smith and the rest of us, representing less than 1/4 of the Smith pop., will move to Gallimore. We are large geographically but house a small number of students. If you split us up again, there may be only 5 kids who are technically closer to Dodson. The additional 2 min on the bus is worth the ride. The opportunity to expand TAG shouldn't be seen as a bad thing as it opens the door for more of the current PCCS students to participate and helps to improve our overall district offerings. Please remember when you casually toss around the idea of moving neighborhoods that there are kids in those neighborhoods. The move from Smith is hard enough. Please don't take it upon yourself to make it harder.
DG April 11, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Option 2 is not what is illogical and contorted here.
Jennifer April 13, 2012 at 05:20 PM
DownUpside1: Fiegel had some wonderful parents that helped out but two years ago when rumors of Fiegel was closing they gave up. They lost a lot of kids and parents, most went to academies. The district played a big part in making it difficult for parents and the next school that is rumored to close will go through the same stuff.
mom0717 April 13, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Nancy, I can't believe I did this but I actually drove the route. My husband thinks I'm crazy. I found that Gallimore is 3.2 miles from the SE portion of the block moving from Smith and Dodson is 3.4 miles. As you move further north and west, Dodson becomes further and a less likely option, not to mention the fact that the traffic southbound on Beck crossing Ford in the morning would add a great deal of time on the bus. Isbister and Workman are indeed slightly closer but as you said, both are full and you wouldn't want us moving to another "north" school anyway. Tonda is full of walkers and they maximized them to the extent possible and then brought in the next closest neighborhoods. As I said before, our kids would love to stay at Smith if possible. However if that is not the case then moving our kids as a group to Gallimore becomes the next best option. There's room so it shouldn't really be a problem. I think the TAG parents in the SW portion of the district will be happy to have their kids closer to home. They are a part of our district too.
Maddiex April 17, 2012 at 08:36 PM
The idea of expanding the TAG program and adding the Young 5's program is to generate revenue by drawing kids back to the district that are currently attending charters and private schools. Many people leave the district because they are interested in the TAG program, but the district doesn't have enough spots. They say this during the April 4th meeting.
John McKay (Editor) March 07, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Maddiex, Frank's comment, I believe, was posted a year ago. I had restored some old comments last night that had been wrongly rejected and didn't realize it would give it a timestamp of today.

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