Boundary decision time nears

The Bethlehem school board listened Wednesday, Dec. 5, to parents making last-ditch pleas to keep their children in their current elementary schools before final redistricting boundaries are approved.

The board will select one of two final scenarios at the Wednesday, Dec. 19, meeting. Meanwhile, four neighborhood-planning units were scrutinized, including two areas where students would be making a switch from Slingerlands to Clarksville school.

Slingerlands is our neighborhood school, the school we walk to, the school we bike to, said Janet Joseph, who has a daughter currently enrolled at the school.

A group of Clarksville supporters made it clear to the board they did not want to see their school enrollment decline.

"Every single scenario reduces the size of Clarksville," said Amy Cartwright, a committee member representing Clarksville School. "Please do not reduce the size any further."

In the two scenarios the board is considering, Clarksville enrollment would go from 261 students to 219 students in the 2008-09 school year. Eagle Elementary, which is slated to open in the fall of 2008, would become the largest school, with an enrollment of more than 440 students. That number had committee member Jill Doyle concerned. She told the school board that the ratio of students to teachers in Eagle would be 23-to-1.

"I am wary as a parent why my children are being stuck with these high ratios and with children and teachers who have not been together," Doyle said.

The number of fifth graders changing schools next year under the first scenario would total 115, with 92 of those students going to Eagle Elementary. If the school board selects the other boundary scenario, there would be a net change of 106 fifth graders changing schools in 2008. The total number of students in grades one through five changing schools next year is around 400.

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