At the Liverpool Central School District’s Board of Education meeting Monday, Nov. 18, the Redistricting Committee gave its final presentation to the board, offering recommendations on how to redraw the district’s lines for the first time in decades.
The presentation was the culmination of months of work carried out by a committee of some 60 LCSD parents, teachers and administrators. Since last spring, the committee has been gathering data and crafting a recommendation for new geographic boundaries, as well as program and student placements, in time for the start of the 2014-15 school year. At least three parents and one teacher represent each elementary and middle school on the committee. The group, led by consultant Ellen Kuno, former assistant superintendent for elementary education, created a series of different scenarios to determine how district lines could be redrawn.
At Monday’s meeting, Kuno presented the committee’s final recommendations: Scenarios 11 and 12, which redrew the district lines so that most of Liverpool’s students would attend their home school (the school to which they live the closest). The only exception would be if they require special services like English as a second language (ESL) classes or special education services not provided at their home school.
Right now, some 480 students in the district do not attend their home school, either for the reasons listed above or because their parents have filed babysitter affidavits with the district. In such cases, if the child is cared for by someone outside the district lines of the home school, the parent can request that they attend the school in which the babysitter lives and get on and off the bus at the sitter’s home.
Under the two proposals Kuno presented at Monday’s meeting, the population of the district was more equitably distributed across its distance. Students in the apartments in the Grampian Road area would be moved into schools closer to their homes to prevent the long bus rides they currently face, while decreasing the student population at Elmcrest Elementary and increasing it at Liverpool Elementary.
The two proposals feature a few differences between them. The geographical breakdown includes marginal differences, building enrollments under Scenario 12 are more in line with what the district was looking for and fewer classes are “capped” in Scenario 12.
According to Kuno, the district caps classes, particularly at the lower levels, in order to manage class sizes.
“For example, we like to have a maximum of 22 students at K and 1,” she said. “That would mean maybe there are three sections, 22 [students] each. So we cap it and we don’t allow any more students to move in. Capped students are the number of students have since moved in and we had to move them elsewhere [in the district]. So maybe there were four capped students who would have attended that building, but they couldn’t because it was capped.”
Because it has some extra capacity, Morgan Road Elementary would remain the district’s English as a Second Language (ESL) site under the proposed scenarios, which is advantageous because of its location at the center of the district. There’s also some extra space at Willow Field and Nate Perry Elementary schools, where new housing and apartment developments are going up.
The proposals also call for changes to how the elementary schools feed into the district’s middle schools. Right now, some of the elementary schools split their students among the district’s three middle school buildings. Under both of the redistricting scenarios, entire buildings would feed into middle schools as a whole; Chestnut Hill, Donlin Drive and Nate Perry would all attend Chestnut Hill Middle, Elmcrest, Liverpool and Long Branch would all feed into Liverpool Middle and Morgan Road, Soule Road and Willow Field would all go to Soule Road Middle.
Under Scenario 12, 25 percent of the district’s elementary students would end up changing schools. According to Kuno, however, they would be attending the school closest to their home.
The redistricting proposals do not include babysitter affidavits, for which Kuno said parents must reapply every year. It will be up to the board as to whether those will be allowed should the redistricting go through. Both scenarios, however, do include pullouts for special education and ESL services that may not be offered at the student’s home school.
Kuno said the district hasn’t undertaken a major redistricting in years.
“I don’t believe there has been a complete redistricting in decades,” she said. “When we added full-day kindergarten [in 2001-02], we did move a few streets here and there. But it was very minor. But a wholesale redistricting has not been done.”
The board will hold a workshop at 6:30 Monday, Nov. 25, at the district office to continue discussing the proposals. The board will vote on the proposal at its Dec. 2 meeting. If approved, the redistricting plan would be implemented in time for the 2014-15 school year.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.