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Greenwich Magnet Schools To Reduce Students' Crisis

Greenwich magnet school to discuss how they are and racial differences in fixed, the main topic area.
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But there is a field in the magnet's help, they would be doing so again.

A number of Greenwich schools are near capacity, and could grow nearer next year. Magnets, particularly the International School at Dundee, have enabled administrators to deal with fluctuating populations without resorting to unpopular measures.

"The magnet program has allowed us for the last 15 years to adjust to changing residential patterns without redistricting," John Curtin, the district's special projects manager, wrote in a new report. "Bear in mind that most school districts undergo at least modest redistricting approximately every five years."

Glenville, North Mianus and New Lebanon schools are the three most crowded elementaries in town. This year, they are within class-size guidelines, but they are projected next year to have "high utilization status," meaning they might not have enough classrooms to meet the guidelines.

New Lebanon's preschool was removed a couple of years ago from its building, and kindergarten classes were relocated this year to the Byram Archibald Neighborhood Center. They are scheduled to stay there at least for one more year. But even with those changes, New Lebanon is projected to have a deficit of one classroom next year. The long-term fix planned for New Lebanon is building a new school, but it will need to create space in the short term.

Glenville and North Mianus are projected to have no extra classrooms next year.

All three schools already alleviate their space problems by sending kids from their district to other schools. Though a magnet itself, New Lebanon has reduced its enrollment by a net of 44 out-placements this year; North Mianus by 33; and Glenville by 23.

Building pressures will continue to loom in the next few years. Administrators have recommended making changes to magnet and other policies to even out enrollment -- but they have received varying levels of support from Board of Education members.

Out of district

Among the approximately 4,200 elementary students this year, 90 percent attend their neighborhood schools. Most who do not, attend one of the district's four magnet elementaries; and the vast majority of them attend The International School at Dundee, which this year has 155 magnet students. Julian Curtiss has 60 magnet students; Hamilton Avenue, 45; New Lebanon, 11.

There also are about 80 tuition students, the children of non-resident district and Town Hall employees eligible to attend the district's schools. And there are 58 students who, for various educational needs, receive special permission to attend a school other than the one in their neighborhood.

The largest chunk of tuition students, 29, attends North Mianus, one of the schools facing the space crunch.


Curtin has a number of suggestions to address the capacity concerns. Among them:

• Revising the magnet school lottery rules to encourage movement from North Mianus and Glenville and discouraging movement from North Street, Parkway and Old Greenwich, which have plenty of space. Low priority, he said, should still be given to students seeking to move among magnet schools.

• Accepting magnet-student applications for New Lebanon School next year on a space-available basis. The school accepted no magnet students this year, but Curtin says a small number of could be admitted, "if done carefully."

• Giving students who attend the Parkway preschool program from outside the Parkway attendance area the option of remaining at the under-capacity Parkway for kindergarten through fifth grade. Curtin does not recommend offering bus service to non-neighborhood Parkway students.

• Limiting movement among magnet schools, after New Lebanon construction is completed (which is not expected until at least late 2018). "Hamilton Avenue and New Lebanon exchanging students serves neither racial balance nor facility utilization," Curtin wrote.

Board members seem receptive to the Parkway proposal and letting a handful of magnet students attend New Lebanon next year. Vice Chairman Jennifer Dayton said she would support the latter proposal because "otherwise we might find that our best and brightest choose to go elsewhere, and we never recruit them back again."

But board members were much less enthusiastic about limiting movement among the magnets. Adriana Ospina described that proposal as a "horrible and inequitable idea."

"If a New Lebanon parent feels that STEM is what their kid needs, they should have the right to send their child to Hamilton Avenue," she said.

Chairman Barbara O'Neill suggested restricting movement between magnets with the same themes. ISD and New Lebanon both have International Baccalaureate programs.

Some are skeptical about whether any new rules will help.

"It's wonderful that we didn't have to redistrict in 15 years," said Peter Sherr. "But I think we're bordering on creating so many weird loopholes, exceptions, convolutions in these rules. And now the recommendation is more of these that I really think we're starting to lose our way here."

Board members have not taken any votes yet on Curtin's

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