Shrewsbury schools’ narrow options for elementary school redistricting

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

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Shrewsbury – The Redistricting Committee met with the School Committee Jan. 20 and presented final elementary school redistricting recommendations. The redistricting will go into effect when the new Major Howard W. Beal Elementary School opens in the fall of 2021.

The field was narrowed to two but a third option (scenario 16) that focused on socio-economic parity was referenced.

“…This [scenario 16] was not recommended by a majority of the committee but we wanted to be highlighted so that the community understands that it was looked at as one of our options,” commented Sandra Fryc, committee chair.

Priya Sankalia, project manager from the consulting firm AppGeo presented scenarios 18 and 19 for the committee’s consideration.

The recommended options were, according to Dr. Joseph Sawyer, superintendent of public schools, “based on a very thorough review and trying to find ways to come into alignment as much as possible with the guiding principles that the School Committee charged the committee with.”

Scenario 18 was one of five scenarios presented to the community in a forum held Jan.12.

Described as “balanced,” it attempts to allocate students to meet present and future enrollment growth but it impacts walkers and by increasing the distance from home to school as well as increasing the driving time for some.

“Scenario 19 is an iteration of scenario 18 and what’s really important is that we took in mind all of the comments that we got from parents and we tried to adjust 18 to incorporate those comments,” Sankalia commented. “The focus was neighborhoods…”

Scenario 19 allows more students/neighborhoods to stay in their current elementary zone thus, “minimizing change”.

The positives of scenario 19 include a minimal change of schools for students, more balanced demographics, greater capacity for school growth in enrollment and accommodating the concept of neighborhood schools.

“It’s not that we are replacing an old school with a new school …,” Patrick Collins, assistant superintendent of finance & operations stated. “We are also making space for the offering for the first time full-day kindergarten for all of our students.”

By redistricting each of the elementary schools, each will gain much needed dedicated space for music, art and special education; ultimately providing an equitable educational experience across the district.

 

Upcoming meetings

The School Committee will hold a public hearing, Wednesday, Jan. 27. Via Zoom webinar.

Participants must register in advance. To register click here or contact the School Committee by email at: [email protected]. They will then vote on the final plan at their Wednesday, Feb. 10 meeting.

 

 

 

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