Wellesley School Superintendent David Lussier on Friday issued the following memo regarding the latest on redistricting plans in Wellesley:
Dear Colleagues and Members of the Community,
On October 8th, the School Committee approved my recommendation to begin the process of redistricting for SY 2014-2015. This recommendation was the result of months of study in which the Administration and the School Facilities Committee reviewed short and long-term enrollment forecasts, assessed our inventory of classrooms, and established a plan to begin much-needed renovation work across our elementary and middle schools. While some of this work will take place in the future, we have an urgency to provide both space and class size relief to schools now, given the loss of dedicated space for art and/or music at some schools and the closure of specific grade levels to new enrollment at others. We clearly need a comprehensive, system-wide response to this problem that goes beyond our short-term triage efforts.
Redistricting of any type is challenging because it results in a change of assignment for students and families who have come to know and love their current schools. Despite the benefit of having seven outstanding elementary schools in Wellesley, the School Committee and the Administration recognize that we must approach this work with a great deal of care to minimize the impact of any proposed changes on the community while still providing the relief we need across the system.
In order to proceed, I have established a Redistricting Advisory Committee, comprised of colleagues from the School Department, School Committee, Town Hall, and the Police Department, along with a parent representative from each elementary school. Our task over the next several months is to review our most current enrollment data and space needs and establish possible redistricting scenarios to bring forward for community input prior to presenting a final set of scenarios to the School Committee for further review and action.
The first task of the Redistricting Committee has been to develop a set of proposed guidelines that will inform the modeling of redistricting scenarios. We plan to bring these draft guidelines forward to School Committee for review next Tuesday, 11/5:
*Minimize the impact of any changes on current students (i.e., explore options such as the grandfathering of students and families)
*Maintain class size guidelines (18-22 K-1; 22-24 2-5) across the system and fully and equitably utilize all seven elementary schools
*Regain dedicated classroom space for art, music, and special education programs
*Maintain transportation efficiency by minimizing the need for busing
*Maximize geographical continuity by respecting the geographic boundaries of the natural neighborhoods
*Take into account major roadways and any traffic implications that will have an impact on the safety of students
*Avoid creating socio-economic disproportionality in student assignments
I would be remiss if I failed to offer thanks to the members of this committee who have stepped forward to assist us in this complex work. While they continue to bring the thoughts and concerns from their respective school communities to our weekly work sessions, together we are responsible for considering the benefits and trade-offs of any proposed changes to the entire
school district. Ultimately, the scenarios that we bring forward for community input will reflect our collective best thinking on how best to proceed based on the aforementioned guidelines. Until we are ready to share the results of our work, I ask for your patience and trust as the committee engages in these deliberations and prepares to bring forward models, likely in January.
Thank you in advance for your support of this challenging, yet necessary, work in the days ahead. If you wish to share any comments or questions, please use the email account (firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. David Lussier
Superintendent of Schools