Let’s keep all redistricting options on table

Published Mar 8, 2017 at 4:00pm

There is a beneficial need of further public discussions on the issue of grades from K to 8 — to gain both age-appropriate student assignment within particular buildings and to achieve the best return on the investment. We are fortunate to have Superintendent Peter Blake inviting and encouraging public taxpayer involvement in a best long-term solution. 

Since Strough Middle school is undergoing a total building multi-million dollar upgrade overhaul and currently projected to be ready for the 2018-2019 school year in September of 2018, complete system-wide K to 8 student grade assignment planning for that Strough “ribbon cutting” must be done now.

A recent letter proposed to reassign 7th and 8th grade students to the RFA building at Griffiss Park along with the regularly assigned 9th to 12th grade students, to include closing Staley, bringing the Strough and Staley 9th grades up to RFA.

Let’s look at the age spread from 7th grade age (about 12-ish) to 12th grade age (about 17-ish) within the same building.
Probably not such a great idea really as pre-teen adolescents in close social daily contact with older teens will cause exponential problems which must be prevented. A definite set-up for a preponderance of plaintiff winnable costly lawsuits!
I suggest that the student realignment configuration to be currently considered for the 2018 to 2019 school year (after Strough reopens) would be K to 5 in the various elementary schools as those buildings student load capacity are respected as well as NYS Ed Dept. legalities for walking distance and student transport time on buses (less than one hour).
If this requires further preparing Fort Stanwix and Clough as regular year-to-year daily use elementary schools, so be it.
Additionally, if obtaining full ownership of the former RC(H)S building (currently in use as Strough 7th grade and next school year’s 8th grade class) would assist in fairly and economically redistricting, that would be worthy of this discussion, along with closing any current elementary school (not my suggestion, but if sound reasoning dictates, so it will be).

However, it is acknowledged that the “NIMBY” (Not In My Back Yard) parent fight preventing closure of any neighborhood school will occur.
Because there is some elbow room of time right now, let’s put ALL options on the table and either keep or discard them for sound legal and economic reasons.
 Grades 6, 7 and 8 would be assigned to Strough and Staley as traditional Middle Schools by student load capacity and geographic residence as when they were dual Junior High Schools containing grades 7, 8 and 9 before the new RFA was opened in September 2002. 
In closing, redistricting must be written in stone not later than June 2018 so that new school bus routes can be developed and “dry-run” tested over summer 2018 to be fully ready for the opening of the September 2018 to 2019 school year.
Right now there are bout 16 months to settle this proposal. 
I welcome intelligent counterpoint to my thoughts.

— Bob Balick, 710 N. George St.