Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kara made the Newspaper

This is the story from the Louisville Courier- Journal, in case the link doesn't link anymore (always a possibility after a certain amount of time)

Clarksville to shift 50 students School board OKs elementary plan
By Ben Zion Hershberg The Courier-Journal
The Clarksville Community Schools board unanimously approved a redistricting plan last night that will move 50 students from Greenacres Elementary School to the older, smaller George Rogers Clark Elementary to even out class sizes.
"It is not a decision we take lightly," board President Bill Wilson said before last night's vote. "Any time you make changes that affect students' lives, it is difficult."
But Wilson said the board believes the plan, which will take effect next fall, will solve an imbalance that has been a concern for several years.
Superintendent Steve Fisher said Greenacres' enrollment is 386 and George Rogers Clark's is 204.
He said that for several years, Greenacres' classes have been close to the school system's limit of 25 students, while George Rogers Clark's classes often have fewer than 20. He said he would like to set a 23-student limit on class size after the redistricting.
Fisher said the students to be moved live on Dartmouth, Princeton, Harvard and Yale drives, Cambridge Boulevard, Oxford, Camden and Wellington courts, and Applegate Lane.
One of the students affected, fourth-grader Kara Barstead, 9, attended last night's meeting with her parents. She said she has been at Greenacres since kindergarten and loves the school and her teachers.
"I feel like I'm going to cry," Kara said after the meeting.
Kara's mother, Jennifer Barstead, questioned why their neighborhood was chosen for redistricting. She said other neighborhoods are closer to George Rogers Clark, and theirs is made up primarily of families living in apartments, and often on relatively low incomes.
Barstead said the school system might expect little opposition from residents who may lack the resources to fight redistricting.
Although her neighbors didn't attend last night's meeting, Barstead said she believes some are concerned.
Fisher denied that economics were a factor in choosing the neighborhood for redistricting. Rather, he said the area has regularly sent about 50 students to Greenacres and he needed a neighborhood with stable numbers of students for the redistricting plan to work.
Anthony Morris, who has a child at George Rogers Clark, said some parents had been concerned the school system might consolidate and close their school.
"It's definitely the lesser of evils," Morris said.
In an interview Monday, Fisher acknowledged that George Rogers Clark didn't meet state standards last year for making "adequate yearly progress" under the federal No Child Left Behind law. Greenacres met the standards.
The Indiana Department of Education's Web site says too few of the special-education students at George Rogers Clark in 2006 passed the English section of state examinations.
If George Rogers Clark doesn't meet the standards again this year, parents could chose to move their students to Greenacres. But Fisher said he didn't expect that to happen, even if parents have the choice.
Reporter Ben Zion Hershberg can be reached at (812) 949-4032.

Another story was in the New Albany Evening News and the Jeffersonville Tribune.

Here it is:
Published January 16, 2008 12:37 pm - Nearly four-dozen elementary school students will have a mile farther to travel to school beginning this fall under a redistricting plan approved by the Clarksville Community Schools board of school trustees Tuesday.
New districts OK’d in Clarksville
Students who live on nine streets will move from Greenacres to GRC
Nearly four-dozen elementary school students will have a mile farther to travel to school beginning this fall under a redistricting plan approved by the Clarksville Community Schools board of school trustees Tuesday.
By a 5-0 vote, the school trustees essentially annexed nine city streets situated near the Little League Park into the George Rogers Clark Elementary School district about two miles away. Greenacres Elementary, where the 46 students living there now go, is roughly half that distance. “Considering she’s been at Greenacres since kindergarten, it will be tough,” said Jennifer Barstead, whose 9-year-old daughter, Kara, is one of the students affected. “Most of her friends at school aren’t going with her.”
Superintendent Stephen Fisher said the streets — which do not intersect with any part of the existing George Rogers Clark district — were chosen because they have a “consistent” school-age population from which to draw.
He said neither income nor test results were factored into the decision, but did note that the group of students scored well on standardized tests last year.
School systems in Indiana are permitted by law to draw and realign district boundaries, Fisher said.
The shift will increase the population of George Rogers Clark — the older and smaller of the two elementary schools — to around 250 and reduce the population of Greenacres to less than 330, Fisher said.
“It will give us a better class-size balance,” Fisher said.
George Rogers Clark, commonly referred to as GRC, has an average class size of 18.9 students this year. Greenacres has an average class size of 20.6.
The discrepancy has been hotly debated for years.
About eight years ago, a study was commissioned to look into the issue, but no action was ever taken to address it. When it was brought up again last year, stakeholders argued both sides of the issue with emotional speeches to the school board.
Trustee President Bill Wilson used the word “struggle” to describe the decision-making process, and Fisher acknowledged that uprooting students like Kara Barstead would not be popular with everyone.
“I know anytime you have change, there is hardship,” Fisher said. “But we have two excellent buildings with two excellent staffs. Parents need not worry.”
Fisher said his recommendation did not come hastily.
About 11 months ago, the board of trustees commissioned Indiana State University professor Robert Boyd to look at restructuring as part of a study of the 1,400-student system’s facilities.
Compiled with the help of two-dozen parents, school staff and community members, the resulting 58-page report presented three options — consolidation, restructuring or doing nothing.
Fisher called the redistricting a “three-year plan,” noting that in that time span, more will be known about a state report recommending consolidation of smaller school districts, efforts to revamp property taxes and the impact of the Colgate-Palmolive Co. plant closure in Clarksville.
Elementary school students living on the following streets will attend George Rogers Clark Elementary School beginning in the fall:

• Dartmouth Drive
• Yale Drive
• Princeton Drive
• Harvard Drive
• Camden Court
• Wellington Court
• Applegate Lane
• Oxford Court

Neither of the papers noted that the selected areas are in one apartment complex. I'm not sure why they think that would make for a consistent school-age population. Apartment dwellers tend to be a bit more mobile than house owners. Jenni noted to me, at least, that the redistricting has to be approved by the "No Child Left Behind" department, so it may take until Kara is out of Greenacres (she'll be in middle schoool year after next). I think they ought to grandfather out the fifth graders in their little group, so as not to put them in two different schools for two years straight. Starting middle school will be tough enough, without having had to readjust to a new elementary school the year before. I might write to the newspapers and bring that up.
Anyway, that, and the fact that Kara is taking another of the Project AHEAD classes at Indiana University Southwest, are the big stories for me this week.

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