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Bethlehem parents pack the house at redistricting meeting

More than 100 parents of children in the Bethlehem school district packed the Adams Street education center Monday, Sept. 17, to witness the first meeting of the newly formed redistricting committee.

The 20-person committee consisting of four PTA-selected members from each of the five elementary schools began the process of deciding how many neighborhood units comprise the district boundaries for Elsmere, Glenmont, Clarksville, Hamagrael, Slingerlands and the new Eagle elementary schools.

This is a process designed for the greater good of the district and the student population as a whole, said Doug Hamlin, president of VersaTrans Solutions, the company hired by the district to oversee the process.

Board president James Lytle said the redistricting committee will recommend to the school board in December two or three final choices for the redrawn boundary lines.

"I hope you will be patient with this process," Lytle told the crowd.

The committee then broke into smaller groups reviewing district boundary maps and making decisions where neighborhood planning units begin and end.

"We don't want parts of the same neighborhood going to different schools," said Hamlin.

School officials said the objective is to review social and physical boundaries and keep neighborhoods together.

Parents attending the meeting asked several questions, including what, if any, input they would have in the redistricting process.

'We want you to hear the same discussion everyone else is hearing," said Lytle to the parents, reminding them there will be plenty of opportunity for questions and input.

Superintendent Les Loomis said his office and the communications office of the district will be made available for any parent who has questions.

The district's Web site at bcsd.k12.ny.us will also provide weekly updates.

"If you feel your interests are not being represented, please come to the administration," said Loomis.

One parent suggested the committee review the ability of a child to walk to school when reviewing neighborhood planning units. Another parent asked why there was no representation on the committee for the new Eagle School.

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