I hope no one came to this morning’s Special Committee on School Admissions, Attendance and Boundaries meeting expecting solutions to chronic overcrowding at the city’s hills schools.
What the committee did seem to conclude, however, was this:
- Moving from full-day to half-day kindergarten isn’t the best or most effective way to increase a school’s capacity.
- To make sure all neighborhood families have a home school, the district will have to add classrooms to various schools (Montclair was mentioned), move attendance boundary lines, or both.
- The district needs to balance out the number of special education students at various schools (Some schools, if I heard correctly, have none; in others, special needs students make up to 30 percent of the student population).
- District staff needs to address “split-street” boundary lines, where kids on different sides of the same street attend different schools.
There was some debate about the timing of these solutions, and whether the special committee had completed its work. It was pretty confusing at the end of the meeting, but the committee members ultimately decided to meet again at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 3.
At that time, they will discuss staff recommendations on how to fix the problem, as well as some of the other issues I outlined above.
Board member Kerry Hamill was adamant that the decisions are made by December (last year at that time, the board delayed making the call), before the enrollment process begins. “We have a problem here to solve, and I think we need to solve it in the next couple of months,” she said.
Do you think boundary-line adjustments are necessary? Do you think it was wise for the board to take the better part of a year to study the issue, and do you think there are options they should consider that they haven’t already?