The new Bancroft School will be open for the 2014-15 school year. In order to prepare for its expanded capacity, and to re-balance the student population at all of our elementary schools, the Andover Public Schools will initiate a redistricting process this fall which will result in the drawing of new elementary school district lines. Whether the redistricting is implemented in the fall of 2014 or 2015 is yet to be determined. More information about this process is below.
In most communities, the distribution of school-aged population changes over time as towns grow or shrink, housing stock turns over, and new homes and developments are built. Redistricting is the process of re-drawing neighborhood school district boundaries to address these population changes and their impact upon the equitable distribution of students among the different schools. The last time Andover schools were redistricted was in 2002, when the High Plain and Wood Hill schools opened. Since that time, many changes have occurred in Andover, including the opening (and impending opening) of several large Chapter 40B apartment complexes, and the building of the new, larger Bancroft school.
The Andover School Committee has appointed Chair Dennis Forgue and Vice-Chair Annie Gilbert to serve as its Redistricting Subcommittee. This subcommittee, in consultation with Superintendent McGrath and district staff, will analyze neighborhood, demographic, and housing development data; review possible redistricting scenarios; hold community meetings to share data and solicit feedback; and make a recommendation to the full School Committee for a vote. The final authority for establishing new school district lines lies with the School Committee. It is important to note that all subcommittee meetings will be posted and open to the public. We encourage parents to engage in this process, and we recommend that elementary PTOs and PACs designate one or more volunteers to attend subcommittee meetings on a consistent basis, to ensure adequate communication and feedback from each school community.
The redistricting process necessitates two distinct decisions: (1) we must decide on a redistricting plan, and (2) we must decide when to implement the plan. The timing of implementation depends in part upon the construction of the new Bancroft School, and in particular upon the demolition of the existing Bancroft and completion of final site work, including playground and field space. The Redistricting Subcommittee will develop a redistricting plan over the next few months which will either be implemented for the 2014-15 school year or for the 2015-16 school year, depending on the progress of the Bancroft construction project.
Redistricting Plan: The Redistricting Subcommittee will begin holding meetings in October, and we anticipate that the process will continue through November. The goal is for the Subcommittee to make an initial recommendation to the full School Committee at its meeting on December 5th. Further public reaction can be made during December, and the full School Committee will plan on making a final decision on the redistricting plan at its January 9th meeting. To effect a September 2014 implementation, the full School Committee must review and vote upon a redistricting plan no later than mid-January, 2014, since kindergarten registration begins in early February.
Implementation Decision: The School Committee will consult with the School Building Committee on the construction progress of the new Bancroft School, and will make a decision by mid-January as to whether the redistricting plan will be implemented in the fall of 2014 or the fall of 2015.
The new Bancroft School was designed to accommodate 680 students to allow for the eventual elimination of the K-2 student program at Shawsheen. The decision on when to eliminate the K-2 program at Shawsheen will be tied to the redistricting implementation decision as described above. The Pre-K student program will remain at Shawsheen until a plan is developed for its long-term location.
Many people are asking if their elementary school will be affected. As this is a district-wide rebalancing of the elementary population, we anticipate that every elementary school will experience changes of some kind. However, we do NOT expect that this redistricting will affect middle school assignments.
We recognize that redistricting is a difficult and complicated process, and that it will inevitably result in a period of disruption and disappointment for some families. We will do our very best to minimize the impact on students, and to ease transitions for families who must change school assignments. Our goal is to facilitate a fair and open process that will lead to a balanced and equitable elementary population throughout our entire district. To this end, your participation and feedback during the process will be valued and appreciated.