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School Boundaries Stay, For Now

by Melissa Bailey | Nov 28, 2012 11:28 am

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Parents who strike out of the lottery in their neighborhood schools may get a new backup plan—but it won’t happen before next fall.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries made that announcement Monday night, as he outlined the school district’s response to 24 recommendations from a panel of teachers, parents and public officials who reexamined the rules by which kids get admitted to city schools.

The redistricting committee formed in April to take a fresh look at the geographic boundaries that determine school admissions. After numerous public hearings, the panel issued a final report earlier this month.

The report called for streamlining the admissions process, making it more transparent, and redrawing the boundaries for some neighborhood schools. Click here for more details.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, Harries outlined which of the recommendations the district plans to tackle before next fall. The district decided to defer most recommendations for future planning. For example, the magnet school and neighborhood school lotteries will not be merged into one streamlined process before March; that change would not come for another year, Harries said.

Changes to the boundaries of neighborhood schools—including a new plan to divvy the city up into four quadrants, to provide a backup plan for parents who didn’t get into their nearest neighborhood school—won’t take place before next fall, Harries said. The district plans to set up neighborhood and school-based meetings before changing any lines. Those changes would take effect in time for the 2014-15 school year.

Recommendations on building three new schools, and doubling the size of MicroSociety Magnet School, will be sent to the mayor’s Citywide School Rebuilding Committee.

A few concrete changes will take place before next fall, Harries said. In the magnet brochures, parents will now be able to see information on how competitive each school is—that is, how many parents applied to that school the past year, and how many got in. That was a key request from a group of parents led by Eliza Halsey and Tim Holahan, who attended all the meetings and gave input throughout the process.

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