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Wellesley to redistrict elementary schools after surging enrollment

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  November 1, 2013 03:06 PM

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Wellesley school administrators have begun the process of redistricting the town's elementary schools in the face of chronic overcrowding, said Wellesley Superintendent David Lussier in a letter sent to parents Friday.

The administration has created a Redistricting Advisory Committee to brainstorm and present plans on redistricting early next year -- as soon as January -- to implement beginning the fall of 2014, Lussier said.

The redistricting committee's formation comes after School Committee members voted at their Oct, 8 meeting to implement redistricting.

In the letter, Lussier firmly advocated for redistricting. He said that Wellesley schools have seen such a surge in enrollment that some schools' rooms previously used for music and arts classes have been shut down to be used as general classrooms, according to the letter.

"We clearly need a comprehensive, system- wide response to this problem that goes beyond our short-term triage efforts," he said in the letter.

Administrators acknowledged that reassigning students to a new local school might provide hardships, but argued that the decision was for the better.

"The School Committee and the Administration recognize that we must approach this work with a great deal of care to minimize the impact of any proposed changes on the community while still providing the relief we need across the system," Lussier said.

In the coming months, the Redistricting Advisory Committee will review enrollment numbers and space needs, as well as guidelines for keeping class sizes under 22 in kindergarten and 1st grade and under 24 in grades 2 through 5. The committee may also explore "grandfathering" kids in to their schools, the letter said.

The committee will also study how to reopen the arts and music classrooms for those specific uses, as well as balancing socio-economics in schools.

"Ultimately, the scenarios that we bring forward for community input will reflect our collective best thinking on how best to proceed," the letter said.

Lussier was not immediately available for comment.

For more information, visit Wellesley's official public schools website.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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