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School board draws the line

A five-month redistricting discussion in the Bethlehem Central School District ended with a whimper instead of a bang with the unanimous approval of a final boundary scenario that will affect 399 elementary students in the 2008 school year.

The fifth scenario was the unanimous final choice of the school board, which approved the change with two slight alternations.

I move that we adopt scenario five, said board member Warren Stoker in front of the remaining group of interested parents who have followed the redistricting process since late summer.

The new Eagle Elementary School, which is slated to open in the fall of 2008, will be the district's largest elementary school with 440 students, followed by Slingerlands with 430 students, Hamagrael with 382 students, Glenmont with 349, Elsmere with 286 students and Clarksville -- the smallest -- at 219 students.

"I think the advantage to scenario five is that the fewest number of students have to be moved," said Lynne Lenhardt, board member.

The main redistricting criteria were to affect the fewest families, and achieve more rational boundaries that accommodate the district's commitment to offering neighborhood schools.

The first of two board-approved modifications to scenario five allows three homes on the south side of Kenwood Avenue between Maywood Road and Pine Street to remain in Elsmere while five homes on New Scotland Avenue and Mason Lane will stay in Slingerlands.

A 24-member redistricting committee has been meeting since August, and working with VersaTrans consultants hired by the district to create the new boundaries that allow for the proper enrollment of Eagle Elementary School. The board also decided to allow fifth graders changing to existing schools, the option of being grandfathered for their final year before entering middle school. Students set to move to Eagle will not have this option. Fourteen students are affected by the decision, costing the district an additional $35,000 in transportation fees to accommodate grandfathering fifth graders at their current school.

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