Oswego School District Redistricting Plan Moves Ahead

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego City School District is moving ahead with plans to redistrict its five elementary buildings.

At Tuesday night’s board meeting, Superintendent Bill Crist updated members on the plan in the wake of his meetings recently with the home and school associations of the elementary schools.

Those meetings, he said, did provide some additional insights.

“There will be some very minor changes in the (proposed) boundary lines to assist in transportation, better balance some of our schools. But, over all, I must tell you that the response was supportive; open dialogues of how we can better provide an equitable opportunity for all of our students from Pre-K to sixth,” Crist said.

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

The new boundaries would be “blurred” to allow for balancing of class sizes, Crist said, adding that the plan remains fluid.

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, under the plan.

A total of 283 students would be impacted (which includes 45 sixth graders).

“These numbers will be fluid until the day kids walk into school,” Crist said.

Some of the concerns that came out of the meetings were transportation routes and bus ride times.

Tom Gunn, transportation director, is working on those to find more efficient runs so some of the routes can be shortened, the superintendent said.

Another thing that came out of the meetings was to maintain the “neighborhood schools” concept.

“I think we’ve done that through this proposed plan,” Crist said.

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, he added.

There were still some concerns about which students might be moved, how the change will impact any aid the schools currently receive and the effect the move will have on the students and their families.

Children are likely to quickly adapt to their new schools, Board President John Dunsmoor noted.

“Children are very resilient,” Crist agreed. “The success of doing a redistricting … can only happen when the adults who interact with those young children, parents, relatives, staff members, faculty, bus drivers and the like embrace that change, that transition. Kids will be very adaptive to their surroundings once they get into them.”

Board member Sam Tripp wondered when was the last time the district did such a project. It was back in the early 1990s, Crist pointed out.

“I think we should put everybody on notice right now that we’re going to look at redistricting from time to time. That way parents will be aware,” Tripp said. “As things change, populations change, five or six years down the road we could be back in the same situation we are now.”

“I think it’s not a bad idea to look at that if it is five or eight or 10 years down the road,” Crist said.

“My thought is to not surprise the parents. They have to know that down the road, we’re going to look at redistricting so they don’t get blindsided by it.”

“It’s not a bad idea to look at it every five years or so,” Dunsmoor agreed.

Currently, Crist said he hopes to finalize the plan and notify families of new assignments in March and April. That will give parents and students an opportunity to visit their new schools and get acquainted, he added.

The new school district elementary boundary will be implemented in the fall of 2012.