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New Delmar boundaries to affect hundreds

After the third redistricting committee meeting Tuesday, Oct. 2, Bethlehem parents left with more questions than answers.

A building and utilization capacity plan released by Superintendent Les Loomis revealed hundreds of students enrolled in grades one through five will be affected by the new boundary lines due out in November.

Versa Trans was hired by the town to draw the new school boundaries, which officials hope will provide more balance across the six schools.

Eagle Elementary, which is set to open in September of 2008, is expected to be the district's largest elementary school with 24 classrooms and a student population of 378. The next largest school will be Hamagrael at 342, a decrease of 155 students from the current enrollment of 497. Glenmont School will hold 298 students, down from 409. Elsmere will see a decrease of 44 students with their enrollment in 2008 set at 268. Clarksville, the district's smallest school with 271 students, will decrease to 205 students next year.

Loomis said enrollment calculations for Slingerlands in 2008 could not be determined because, unlike the other elementary schools, which will gain kindergartners from their own home areas, there will be no change in Slingerlands' current classroom size. However, changes in where those students are coming from are expected.

"You might have some Slingerlands students go to another school district and gain some students from elsewhere," said Loomis.

Many Slingerlands parents at the meeting appeared uncomfortable with that answer.

Board president James Lytle told the 60 parents in attendance to look at the enrollment estimates as just numbers at this time.

"It is important to view that number other than putting children's faces on it and adding them up," said Lytle. "That number should be dealt with a little less intensity."

The 24-member redistricting committee has finished their preliminary work drawing neighborhood boundary lines. Those lines will now be reviewed by Versa Trans staff with a deadline of Nov. 6, when possible boundary scenarios will be released. Establishing the final formal criteria for the process went through another round of debate between the committee and the public.

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