Monday, November 9, 2015

Redistricting Committee Rejects Short-Term Redistricting Proposals

At a long meeting on Monday at the school district's Central Office, the Board of Education's appointed redistricting committee rejected all short-term proposals presented to them by consultants Milone and McBroom.  The committee expressed that they wanted the public to know that they had listened to concerns about redistricting, and were slowing down the approach.

However, the Committee also voted to ease the burden of overcrowding at Farm Hill Elementary school by moving the ICM (Intensive Case Management) program from Farm Hill School to another elementary school which has the physical space to house the program. The program currently serves three students, but is staffed by eight specialists.  Moving the program will free one full-sized classroom at Farm Hill, and space currently used by staff.

After listening to a presentation by Milone and McBroom consultants Rebecca Augur and Pat Gallagher based on current (as of October 1) enrollment numbers, the committee decided that new circumstances allowed for a more nuanced approach to redistricting.  The new enrollment numbers seem to indicate an ongoing decline in enrollment, and a significant enough decline in enrollment at Farm Hill to constitute a more measured approach.

The presentation also featured more possible short-term and long-term redistricting proposals which would alleviate problems of over-capacity and racial imbalance.

These new proposals came in the face of objections by parents and residents to the original proposals presented at a public meeting in October.

"We had to come up with scenarios that would move you through discussions this evening," Augur said in introducing the adjusted scenarios.  But she warned that the new scenarios were not perfect, and could generate additional objections, which they did among the committee members.

Most of the proposed new scenarios relied on pocket, or spot redistricting that would move students in modest numbers from school to school.

"If we rely on spot redistricting we could be here again in two to three years with another school over utilized," said Amy Waterman, a committee member and staffer at Macdonough's Family Resource Center.

"It's not fair of us to upset the community with a short term change," committee and Board of Education member Sheila Daniels said.  "We're looking for a long term change that will help the schools and the community."

In the end, the committee found none of the new proposals effective enough to present to the community at the next public meeting on November 12, so they voted to slow the redistricting process and make programmatic changes that will alleviate stress on the system.

Because the entire school district is now higher than 50% minority, the standards for racial imbalance in the district have changed.  This convinced the committee that they could delay implementation of any further short-term redistricting to address the racial imbalance at Moody and Macdonough elementary schools.

The next public hearing on redistricting is Thursday, November 12, 7 PM at Woodrow Wilson Middle School.


Curious said...

Could the new members participate in this meeting before they were sworn in office? Or did they have a special ceremony?

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

New board members in attendance were Marilyn Dunkley and Christopher Drake. They observed like everyone in attendance who was not on the committee. No secret swearing in ceremony. The official swearing in of all elected officials is tonight (11/10).