School officials are eyeing the possibility of sending some students who would otherwise go to Stafford or South Side elementary schools to one of the two new schools proposed by the Board of Education.
Most of the 900 students who are slated to attend each of the two new schools would come from the buildings that officials are planning to close – Memorial Boulevard Middle School and three primary schools: O’Connell, Bingham and Greene-Hills.
But, according to a recent memorandum from school Superintendent Philip Streifer to city councilors, “we may have to redistrict some students from fringe schools.”
“For example, Stafford is now getting crowded, so we might take some students from the Stafford district as well,” Streifer said in his Sept. 8 memo.
“South Side, too, is getting crowded and we may do the same there,” he said.
“So there will be some additional students going to these schools, but on the whole the new schools will house primarily students from the four we close,” Streifer said.
In addition, Streifer said that if the number of students in town dwindles – which is not expected – then a fourth elementary school might be shut down. The memo doesn’t say which school would be most likely to be shuttered next.
Streifer’s memo notes some of his initial thoughts about redistricting guidelines when the kindergarten to eighth grade schools are constructed.
A top priority, he said, will be to ensure greater racial balance in the schools.
O’Connell “is getting close to being out of balance with the other schools,” Streifer said, and “we will be mandated” to take corrective action.
Streifer said he would also try to ensure that “families should stay together” and be guaranteed “no further moves” until at least high school.
He said he would also make it so that additional students from a family whose children attend one of the K-8 schools would be guaranteed the chance to go, too.
The $120 million plan to build two new K-8 schools, one in Forestville and one in west Bristol, has been moving forward slowly.
City councilors recently endorsed two sites for the schools, but final approval is waiting on the recommendation of the Planning Commission, whose support is up in the air. Other obstacles are also possible.
But school officials have said repeatedly they are running out of time. They must pick sites, hire architects, finish comprehensive plans, get a final green light from the state, hire contractors and get the project started by June 2010 or the state funding will fall through.
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