Redistricting for Both Reading Middle Schools Proposed
School Committee to vote on proposed new middle school district lines Nov. 5.
Parents of students at the Birch Meadow and Killam Elementary Schools, take note. The School Committee is considering changing the district lines for the Coolidge and Parker Middle Schools. That change, if approved, would affect some of you.
The committee is thinking about assigning all Birch Meadow fifth grade graduates to the Coolidge Middle School and moving the Killam-to-Parker district line northward, closer to the Killam School.
The School Committee plans to vote on that recommendation on Nov. 5.
At the end of their fifth grade school year, a small number of Birch Meadow students - between eight to 12 a year, according to Superintendent John Doherty – are assigned to the Parker Middle School.
This school year, 18 students from Birch Meadow moved to Parker, according to the superintendent; 54 to Coolidge.
Moving the middle school district line in the Killam School district would essentially balance the number of students who would be assigned from Birch Meadow to Coolidge with the number of additional students who would be sent from Killam to Parker, Doherty clarified to Patch. Killam sends students to both Coolidge and Parker. This year, 46 Killam students moved up to sixth grade at Parker, according to the superintendent; 41 to Coolidge.
Under Doherty's recommendation, students on the following streets would go to Parker:
75 to 234 Charles St.; up to 274 Haverhill St; 600-841 Main St.; 92 to 212 Pearl St; Audubon Road; Condor Road; Duck Road; all Timberneck Road; all Richards Road; all of Tamarack; Pitman Drive and Varney Circle.
One of the goals of the proposed new district lines, Doherty said, is to “try to maintain comparable class sizes between Coolidge and Parker in future years.”
If the School Committee approves the proposed changes, the one-for-one swap option – allowing individual students to swap their assignments to Coolidge and Parker -- would end, according to Doherty. That started in 1995.
If middle school district lines were adjusted for the coming 2013-14 school year, students would be phased in over three years, the superintendent said.
No students at Coolidge or Parker would be displaced, Doherty said.
Students in the new Parker district who have siblings at Coolidge when they are scheduled to enter middle school could choose to attend either Coolidge or Parker.
Several parents attended Tuesday‘s meeting specifically for this issue. One told Patch he has struggled with school assignments for his children.
Ken Young told the School Committee in July that he and a number of parents in what he described as a “swing area” on the south side of the current Birch Meadow School district were unhappy with the way sixth graders from Birch Meadow were assigned to middle school.
Many more Birch Meadow graduates were assigned to Coolidge, he told the committee in July, than to Parker. The distribution of Killam students is more equitable, he said then, with roughly 60 percent usually going to Coolidge and 40 percent to Parker.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Young told Patch he, his wife and their entire neighborhood “Thank the School Committee and (school) superintendent for taking a positive step forward for a small group of Birch Meadow students and families that have been burdened by (the current) middle school district lines.”
“It’s nice,” he said, “that the people we put in place do listen to individuals.”
Another parent thanked the committee for considering the proposal. Her son, a Birch Meadow second grader, came home in a panic last spring, she said, after the school’s split middle school assignments were announced.
Parents of students who would be affected by the change should receive a letter from the school department, Doherty said, giving residents the opportunity to review the information and give input on the proposal.