Schenectady County

Niskayuna class sizes focus of plan

A plan that Niskayuna school district officials hope will avert a repeat of difficult elementary sch
PHOTOGRAPHER:

A plan that Niskayuna school district officials hope will avert a repeat of difficult elementary school redistricting was approved by the school board Monday night.

The plan centers on new students coming into the district, shifting them among schools when class sizes get too large in what would be their home school.

No student currently enrolled would be switched. Only students whose families come into the district during the school year would be sent to a different school, and then only when there wasn’t room at the closest school.

The plan was the result of months of work by the school board and district officials.

“This is a big step forward,” Superintendent Kevin Baughman said after the unanimous vote.

Baughman and other district officials and board members met with parents in recent weeks, answering questions and clarifying portions of the plan.

The plan, an outline of which is available on the district’s Web site, has gone through several drafts. It stayed largely the same following the parent meetings. Board members clarified a portion Monday night, noting efforts would be made to keep children in their home school by following the new plan.

Classes would be created after May 1 for first through fifth grades and June 1 for kindergarten. Students registering after those deadlines could be sent to a different school, but only if their school’s grade level had hit the guideline.

Kindergartners, officials said, would not be considered “new” if they were registered by a June 1 deadline. Officials said many of the policies are already being used, they have not been set down on paper.

The goal, Baughman has said, is to avoid large class sizes in one school and small class sizes in another, which is unfair to students.

The district is also trying to avoid a repeat of 2002 redistricting, which angered parents.

Incoming parents would have the option of moving their child back to the home school when a slot opened up.

Families would also have the option to send siblings to the alternate school when possible, rather than have them split between schools.

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