May 14, 2012 Amanda Seef Uncategorized
If the redistricting plan in West Genesee Schools is approved, Cooper Ponto will have attended three schools in three years.
The area east of Onondaga Road in the Westvale area would shift from Split Rock school to Onondaga Road. Students living just east of Kasson Road (on Barbara, Joanne, Carol and Elaine) would no longer attend East Hill and would now go to Stonehedge. Students between Milton Avenue and Genesee Street would now go to Split Rock.
The third-grader is a student at Stonehedge Elementary now, but the plan presented by the redistricting committee last week would put him at Split Rock Elementary for his fifth grade year and at Camillus Middle School the year after. His family is one of 172 who will be affected by the changes, which is being used by administrators to even out enrollment, socio-economic challenges and opportunities at each school.
“This particular plan is going to be tough on our children especially,” Cooper’s mother, Crystal Ponto, said. “For me and my children, I don’t agree with it.”
The plan, which is yet to be approved by the board of education, comes after Castillo, Silky and Martin, a consulting group out of Syracuse, and a committee was tasked with creating more equal attendance numbers among the school’s buildings.
At the last meeting of the committee Thursday, May 10, the consulting group suggested their “option B” be implemented in the district. This option shifts around many students, though parents at the public meetings spanning five months were most upset with one area — the “old Fairmount” area.
Students living between Milton Avenue and Genesee Street, between Gordon/Turner and to the edge of the district, would attend Split Rock. Ponto lives in this area. She says this is unfairly targeting the area where many live in apartment complexes, with lower income levels.
“These decisions shouldn’t be made based on my W-2,” she said. “We understand some of the reasons they’re doing this, but we feel some neighborhoods have been targeted.”
The consultants, who were tasked with balancing enrollment while also considering transportation and socio-economic issues, say the move will help to balance the free and reduced price lunch percentage.
At Stonehedge, where the students currently attend, the percentage will decrease. That building had the highest among the elementary students. At Split Rock, the percentage will increase, keeping it on keel with the other three buildings.
“Kids are going to be isolated by this move,” said parent Tom Royal.
But Superintendent Chris Brown says the move wasn’t made solely because of the socio-economic status of the area.
“It’s a population center,” he said. “It has the largest concentration of families. It makes the most sense. You have to remember the first criteria was balancing enrollment while looking at other factors.”
The redistricting process began last spring after the school district voted to not close Onondaga Road based on declining enrollment. Onondaga Road and East Hill have the same footprint, but the enrollment issues have made one school have about 200 students more than the other.
The attendance zones haven’t been amended in about 20 years, Brown said.
Next step in the redistricting process is the presentation to the board of education, tentatively slated for June 6. The board could vote on it at their regular meeting June 20.
The proposed changes wouldn’t take effect until fall 2013.
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