Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Parents pepper Perrysburg board on redistricting

A redistricting proposal for Perrysburg schools drew protests and questions from more than 50 residents yesterday during the first community meetings on the issue.

The district has proposed redrawing the boundaries of its elementary school attendance areas to balance class sizes at the four elementary buildings. If the plan goes into effect next school year, an estimated 130 students would switch schools.

Wanda Fisher was one of the parents who expressed concerns about the plan during the two community meetings held yesterday in the Commodore Building on Indiana Avenue.

"I hope there's enough foresight in this plan that you don't transfer these kids to a new school and disrupt their lives and then need to transfer them to a different school," said Ms. Fisher, whose first grader would transfer from Frank Elementary to Woodland Elementary if the plan is approved.

The district will hold additional public meetings at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. tomorrow and at 10 a.m. Saturday. The school board is set to vote Monday on the redistricting.

Several parents said the public has not been given enough time to comment on the plan before the school board vote.

"You're not prepared with all the information I feel we should have," said Mark LaJoie, parent of a fourth grader.

Superintendent Michael Cline said the school board has discussed redistricting for almost two years, and over the past several months has looked at more than a dozen possibilities for redrawing elementary boundaries.

"There's been thought behind this. It wasn't something we cooked up overnight," he said. "The obligation for the board of education is to try to serve all the children, and we're doing our best to do that."

School officials' main concern with redistricting was to balance student-to-teacher ratios at the elementary schools, Mr. Cline said.

Under the redistricting proposal, enrollment would decrease at Toth by roughly 60 students and Fort Meigs by roughly 20 students, while Frank and Woodland would gain roughly 40 students each.

The district is aiming for target student-to-teacher ratios of 20:1 for kindergarten classes, 22:1 for first, second, and third grade classes, and 25:1 for fourth and fifth grade classes.

"It seems like you're using the student-to-teacher ratio as this Holy Grail," parent Michael Schwiebert said. "I would rather have continuity in where my kid goes to school with a slightly larger class."

Dr. Cline said other factors in the redistricting included grouping neighborhoods together, keeping transportation costs down, spreading out future development between the schools, and having a socio-economic mix of students at each school.

Residents expressed concerns about how the redistricting would fit into the district's long-term facility plans, whether fourth graders would be allowed to finish their final year at the same elementary school, and the way the redistricting would impact residents of different areas.

"We're feeling like the people who are established here are playing second fiddle to the people who are just moving here in the new developments," parent Becky Schwiebert said.

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