Oswego School District Considering New Redistricting Plan

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego City School District is exploring a plan to redistrict its five elementary buildings.

The current lines are indicated on the map at left. At right is the proposed boundaries.
The current lines are indicated on the map at left. At right is the proposed boundaries.

The plan impacts the fewest number of students possible and doesn’t close a school, Superintendent Bill Crist told the board of education Tuesday night.

“From time to time we look at population zones of our school district. It was an interest of the school board and administration that for the 2012-13 school year we look at how to best place students in our schools so that there is a better balance of students, also looking at how we can best provide transportation … as well as maintain the neighborhood concept that Oswego has been known for,” Crist explained.

They have been working on the plan since October in looking at how to better distribute the population of students at the elementary level, he said.

The proposal would keep all five schools open and provide for a better distribution of students, he explained.

Tom Gunn, transportation director, provided board members with a map detailing the current setting and the proposed changes.

“I will be going to each of the elementary schools to address this specifically with the home and school (organizations),” Crist said. “I have been in conversation with the home and school presidents right straight through from the beginning of the school year. We would then invite each school community to come together at these meetings in February to discuss this more openly with them and provide a little bit more input, and listen to some of the concerns or issues that may present as a result of this redistrict plan.”

The proposal currently impacts about 283 students, the superintendent said, adding some of the other plans they looked at impacted almost double that amount.

Within about a week, district officials said they will be able to provide a clearer picture, by street, of what the new boundaries would look like.

In the proposed boundary, Fitzhugh almost goes unchanged. The Riley school would actually become much more of a neighborhood school, Crist pointed out.

Minetto would take in a large portion of the rural Scriba students from Riley.

In the Kingsford area, “what we’ve really done is connected the ‘island,’” Crist said referring to connecting the two separate pockets of students currently going to the school.

The existing Leighton School area, the First and Third wards, would extend toward the lake and out around Camp Hollis, according to the proposal.

“What this does is allow for a pretty consistent balance of student populations and class size. It does not impact students who have special needs; it allows students with IEPs to remain in the buildings that they have. There are still some students who may have special requests by way of childcare that will be addressed.”
The new boundaries would be “blurred or grayed” to allow for balancing of class sizes, the superintendent pointed out.

“When we drew the lines, we looked at evening out the numbers (of students) in the schools, taking into consideration the size of each school, as well as transportation efficiencies,” Gunn said.

When the home and school presidents began talking about this concept, it was very important in planning to get this information out to parents and students as soon as possible, Crist said.

Students who will be sixth graders in the 2012-13 school year will have the option to stay in their own building if they want to.

However, siblings within that same family would be transferred to the new building, Crist added.

Moving 280 students to a new school is “something that is going to come with some emotion from the community,” the superintendent admits.

The board and administration have an interest in wanting to better balance the schools; it is a timeframe that has gone from the early 1990s to the present, Crist said.

“There will be some emotion tied to that. As we march through this, know that students and children are very resilient through this change and process. Many times, the adults have the bigger issues, if you will, with making those transitions,” he said. “The success of allowing children to move from school to school will apparently be born by how adults and how we as people closely connected to this are able to allow this transition to happen.”

Ultimately, he said, he believes all of the students in the district would benefit from the move.

No matter which elementary school students go to, it is important to provide the same education, the same programs and the same experience for each of the children, Crist said. “They are all Buccaneers and they will become Buccaneers again when they come into middle school and remain Buccaneers go into high school as well,” he said.