Middle School Redistricting Projected to End By 2014-2015

Long Range Planning Committee presentation suggests enrollment should allow middle school attendance zones to eventually return to 2008-2009 levels.

Current enrollment projections indicate that by the 2014-2015 school year, middle schools should be able to return to their 2008-2009 attendance zones, according to a presentation by Superintendent Margaret Dolan at last night’s Westfield Board of Education meeting.

The current attendance zones affecting the district’s middle schools have been effective in alleviating the effects of larger class sizes, Dolan said during a presentation of a demographic report to the Board on behalf of its Long Range Planning Committee. The zones had been adjusted in 2009 – through a form of redistricting –to account for a bulge in student enrollment in certain elementary school grades, with the tentative plan to have the adjustments in effect for five years.

The redistricting policy has to be approved each year by the Board, which last night approved the measure for the 2012-2013 school year by a 4-3 vote. Board members Ginny Leiz, Ann Cary, Rosanne Kurstedt and Gretchan Ohlig voted to approve the measure. Meanwhile, President Richard Mattessich, Vice President David Finn and Mitch Slater voted against continuing the redistricting.

The announcement regarding a planned return to 2008-2009 attendance zones in 2014 was the highlight of Dolan’s presentation, drawing applause from a number of concerned parents in attendance. Several parents addressed the Board later in the meeting, emphasizing the stress that the educational uncertainty places on their children and pressing the Board for a guarantee that the redistricting will in fact end in 2014. Dolan and other Board members reiterated that the plans for 2014 are based merely on projections, but barring major population changes in specific grades, the return to 2008-2009 zones should occur.

Dolan’s presentation was based on a five-year projection study conducted by Ross Haber Associates, which included analysis of the district’s enrollment history and facility charts as well as census information. The study concluded that redistricting on the elementary level would not solve any space issues since each school is or will be fully utilized within the next five years. Dolan also said that while there is no immediate possibility for a full-day kindergarten in the district, she has asked the Long Range Planning Committee to look into what the district could do to address that issue. Additionally, Dolan noted that despite an increase in high school enrollment (1,782 in 2006-2007 to a projected 1,967 in 2016-2017), the 2003 addition to the high school should be able to accommodate the anticipated growth. 

South Westfielder June 16, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Time for Change - I have already admitted that I saw something good - the increased emphasis on technology, just how poor it is in or schools, and action to correct it. That doesn't change the fact that the redistricting issue was nothing but a bunch of closed-minded crybaby parents who greatly exaggerated the impact of their children needing to go to Edison. Typical northside/southside stuff that they woul dhave been ok with as long as it was someon else's kids who were impacted and not theirs. The three people were elected on this one issue alone. They wanted to get even with the Board and use it to their advantage. There is no reason to end it before the student population changes are ripe for it.
South Westfielder June 17, 2012 at 12:01 AM
The dislike of the Superintendent by the three people who voted against it is no secret. At least with their vote they can go back to those in their communities, beat their chests and tell everyone that they remained true to "the cause", but were simply outvoted. They will be seen as heros and re-elected or maybe elected to higher office. Who knows?
Gary McCready June 17, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Well, the really funny thing about a "vote" on this particular issue, as I recall it from my time on the board, it that it is merely advisory to the Superintendent. Unless the BoE recently changed this “policy", the district lines are in the "regulation" attached to the policy, which allows the superintendent to implement the policy, i.e. define the lines, as she pleases. So, the board can vote all they want, but unless it is a vote to change the language in the policy, the Superintendent does not have to listen to them on this issue. The best the Board can do is threaten not to renew her contract if she does not listen to their advice. Edit: pronoun
Concerned Westfield Citizen June 18, 2012 at 05:08 PM
We're going to separate your kids from their friends and send them across town. Then we'll see how you enjoy it. I'm sure you'll be the biggest crybaby of them all. Also, your ignorance and selected slander against the 3 board members from the Washington area is breathtaking. All three are accomplished citizens who decided to take action and support their community. Of course it's easier for someone like you to sit back and just complain. These people took action. It's called a democracy and they exercised their rights. This was exactly the same action taken by the 7 board members, all of who weren't in the Washington area, to see to it that their neighbor's children wouldn't be effected.
South Westfielder June 19, 2012 at 02:31 AM
@ Concerned - Slander? Really? Better look up the word in the dictionary. The Gardens had to send their kids to Wilson when Franklin was nearby (having to cross over Mountain Ave). When I went to school here, I had to go to 4 different schools because of overcrowding. Put your big pants on and consider this an opportunity for your kids to meet more friends. Your kids don't stand a chance if you continue to baby and coddle them. It's you that are troubled by it, not the kids.


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