Final chance for public input into school plans

WESTFIELD – On Tuesday, Westfield Public Schools parents and family members will have one more chance to comment on the elementary school redistricting plans for the fall. That’s when the Educational & Technology and Curriculum & Instruction subcommittees will meet to review the final plans, before a vote at the next School Committee meeting.
“This would be the parents’ last chance to weigh in as we hope the committee will vote to approve on March 5,” said Westfield Public Schools Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski.
The new plan, which was first unveiled at the Feb. 5 School Committee meeting includes keeping the Russell Elementary students together by sending all 128 of them to Highland Elementary School next year.
In addition, changes were made to the English language learner groups, with ELL students consolidating into two schools, Highland and Munger Hill elementary schools. ELL students from Highland and Franklin Street elementary school will go to Highland, and ELL students from Abner Gibbs, Munger Hill, Paper Mill and Southampton Road elementary schools will go to Munger Hill. According to Chief Financial Officer Ronald R. Rix, who led the redistricting team, there will be duplicate ELL programs at both schools.
Rix said they don’t expect changes in special services programs for students.
Another change will be for the 33 students living in the Mechanic Street area who will go to Abner Gibbs in the fall. He said the Mechanic Street students would be going to the new elementary school currently planned for Ashley Street; this way, all students in Abner Gibbs and Franklin Avenue would go to the new school when it is built.
A change in busing times for students is also being proposed. In order to reduce the need for additional buses with the new schedule, the team proposed extending the elementary school dismissal time by 15 minutes, which Rix said would save the district $265,000. At the Feb. 5 School Committee meeting, Human Resources Director Paula Ceglowski said the change in dismissal time was subject to negotiation with employees.
At the meeting on Tuesday, the subcommittee will also review school designs for the grades 5-6 intermediate school and grades 7-8 middle school which was also presented on Feb. 5.
The meeting, which will begin with public participation, is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall, Room 207, 59 Court Street, Westfield.

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