Bonnie Herrmann, Parent Congress head, says she's received mostly positive feedback. THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This PhotoThe Toledo Board of Education approved new attendance lines on Saturday for a series of new K-8 neighborhood schools that will replace the district's current middle and elementary schools.
The new boundaries stem from the district's three-year transformational plan, which would close its seven middle schools in the fall and establish new K-8 buildings. The middle school and elementary buildings would be remade as community schools, with the middle school buildings retrofitted for younger students.
Before the vote, board members and Superintendent Jerome Pecko lauded the work of district staff in developing the boundaries and gathering community input. Many students will be closer to their schools, Mr. Pecko said, and the district will save money, largely from the closure of several schools. But most important, Mr. Pecko said, is the academic benefit K-8 buildings will have for the district.
"There is a preponderance of evidence that it is better for students," he said.
The district held public hearings in March in each of the six proposed areas, presenting the proposed boundaries of the communities and the individual schools' attendance areas.
Brian Murphy, interim assistant superintendent for secondary instruction, estimated that between 3,000 and 3,500 of the roughly 25,000 students will change schools because of the new boundaries. District staff members also said they met with parent groups, principals, and community organizations.
"It's not a board or administrative action," board Vice President Lisa Sobecki said, thanking staff for gathering input on the boundaries. "This is driven by the community."
Bonnie Herrmann, president of the TPS Parent Congress, said in a phone interview that she's received mostly positive feedback from parents about the process the district used to present, then revise, the attendance boundaries. A parent of students in the Bowsher learning community, she said she appreciated that district officials took safety into account when redrawing boundary lines.
"Obviously, you are not going to make everybody happy," Ms. Herrmann said, "but I think they did a good job trying to make most people happy."
Since they were first proposed, attendance lines for 17 schools were adjusted based on community suggestions. The new K-8 models and attendance areas will significantly change some schools' enrollments next year compared with now.
In the Scott learning community, for instance, enrollment at Rosa Parks, Glenwood, and Samuel M. Jones at Gunckel Park schools will rise from the current 251, 271, and 358 respectively to projected enrollments of 333, 354, and 474. What is now Robinson Middle School is projected to drop to 214 students from 421.
During a special session Saturday, the board voted 4-0 on the new boundaries; board member Larry Sykes was not at the meeting.
Except for board members, district administrative staff, and reporters, the board meeting room in the Thurgood Marshall Building was empty. Notice of the meeting was posted Thursday.
Board member Jack Ford, who ultimately voted for the boundary changes, questioned whether the district's plan will make fundamental changes to education in the district. Sitting in the back of the meeting room, apart from the other board members, Mr. Ford said he wanted to see results on state test scores this year.
Superintendent Jerome Pecko, who spoke in March at Robinson Middle School at a hearing on new boundaries, praises the work of staff in gathering community input. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo"Just because we call something transformational doesn't make it such," he said. "If at the end of the day it's the same old numbers, then it's not working, and it's just a dog and pony show that we've trotted out for a while."
District staff said the boundary lines were voted on at a special meeting, instead of the regular board meeting April 26 because officials told parents the boundary lines would be set before spring break, which starts April 18. The district plans to hold open houses May 17 at all K-8 schools and similar meetings May 18 at high schools so that parents can get accustomed to their children's new schools.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: email@example.com or 419-724-6086.