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Citizens Attend Elementary School Redistricting Meeting

November 17, 2011
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11/18/11 The first of two public meetings concerning boundary modifications (redistricting) for the Plymouth Schools was held on Wednesday night at Menominee Elementary.

Presenting a preliminary map of how the boundaries could change for the 2012-2013 school year was demographer Jerome McKibben.

McKibben had provided information and projections approximately five years ago for  redistricting.

McKibben reviews enrollments projections, demographic analysis and migration as he projects for the future needs of the corporation.

The preliminary map can be seen starting Thursday or Friday on the Plymouth Schools website, at each elementary building in the corporation, and at the Plymouth Public Library.

The actual redistricting, if warranted, could affect the student population of each of the four elementary schools in the Plymouth system. Students in grades kindergarten through 4th grade attend one of the elementary schools and then all converge into Riverside Intermediate for grades 5-6.

The demographic study will also include projections of students from private schools that are within the school district.

Adding to the considerations will be the opening of the Discovery Academy currently occupied by Washington Elementary. Although the actual process for acceptance into Discovery Academy has not been totally decided, students who would attend elementary schools from all of the school district could apply. The number of students accepted would be based on a number of criteria including those used for determining redistricting.

 

Just five years ago the Plymouth School District was so out of balance that Washington Elementary did not have a Title I teacher or aides. Currently there is a lack of balance again, but this time it’s Webster Elementary and Menominee Elementary that are getting dangerously close to losing their Title I services. Some aide positions were cut due to the decrease in funding; however, each school retained a Title I teacher. Title I funding provides for teachers and aides to work with children who may need extra help.

Because of this, Superintendent Daniel Tyree feels that it’s important to take a close look at the shifts in population within the school district and make possible adjustments through redistricting for the 2012-2013 school year.

To comply with federal mandates, school districts must maintain a balance of race/ethnicity, numbers of students who qualify for free and reduced services, and students who qualify for services due to placement in ELL classes for those with limited English speaking and/or writing skills.

When McKibben reported his findings during the last redistricting efforts, he said, “This will last for eight to ten years unless there is major industry that moves into or out of Plymouth and if there is a recession that lasts more than two years.” It seems his prediction has come true.

On Wednesday night, McKibben said, “When you start redistricting, you move into some situations where you have to stay within the law.” He added, “Changes in Indiana state law allows for out of district transfers-this is the “wild card”.” “You have to see if the benefits of change outweigh any detriments.” McKibben said.

 

 

 

Adding to the considerations will be the opening of the Discovery Academy in the 2012-2013 school year currently occupied by Washington Elementary. Although the actual process for acceptance into Discovery Academy has not been totally decided, students who would attend elementary schools from all of the school districts could apply. The number of students accepted would be based on a number of criteria including those used for determining redistricting.

If the numbers stay the same on subsequent redistricting maps, approximately 129 Washington Elementary students will stay within the district bounds. Those students will automatically be eligible for Discovery Academy; however, parents can opt to request placements to other elementary schools. Students from other Plymouth Schools districts can then apply for a spot in the Discovery classes. discovery Academy can hold 75 students in each grade level.

Plymouth Superintendent Dan Tyree explained briefly how the application process will be handled. He said, “We will have a stratified lottery that will be fair and equitable.” According to Tyree, on one side of the application card there will be demographic information, grade level and balancing information. Only after the card has been selected in the lottery will the name of the child be known.

Tyree said, “It (Discovery Academy) is just a different approach to learning.” Michele Riise, Washington Elementary principal, said, “Any child will fit as long as the parent and child want it.”

Additionally, there are 105 students from neighboring school districts that have enrolled in the Plymouth system that will need to be factored into achieving a balance at each school.

Those with suggestions or comments concerning redistricting may contact the superintendents by email or phone.

The next meeting in which McKibben is expected to release a second redistricting map will be held on December 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Menominee Elementary School Cafeteria.

Carol Anders Correspondent

 

 

 

 

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