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Lancaster School Board discusses redrawing elementary school lines

LANCASTER- Times are changing and so does the population balance in the Town of Lancaster. Because of this, Lancaster School board took some time to discuss the possibility of redrawing elementary school district lines.

In some cases, students are forced to travel to elementary schools further away from their homes to fit the needs of school sizes. But Lancaster has been able to keep class sizes reasonable, although there are some inconveniences caused by present boundaries.

“It works,” said Dr. Michael Vallely, who will take over as superintendent of schools after this year. “Those particular boundaries are not perfect, not exactly commonsensical, but … it all works.”

But the district remains committed to working to make things the best it can for all the kids. New boundaries for the district's four elementary schools were discussed at the Lancaster School Board's work session on Monday at the Central Avenue School Building. It was stressed that these presented scenarios are ideas – not official proposals.

“This is why we put this on as a goal, to make sure we keep a pulse on where the kids are," Marie MacKay, board vice president.

As it stands now, John A. Sciole and Hillview are the two largest schools, but they're located in the north part of town. Meanwhile, more of the students are south of Broadway. Three ideas were presented by Transportation Supervisor Robert Mowry at the meeting.

One of those ideas involving splitting the district down Broadway Ave. and separating grade levels. Two of the schools would be kindergarten and grade one and the other two would be Grades two and three.

Several board members expressed concerns over that last idea, citing the constant changing of schools for students. Transportation costs would also be higher.

Money remained a topic at the rest of the work session as further details of the 2013-14 school budget were discussed. The total instruction portion of the budget proposal is at $47,767,381 - an increase of $2.449, 432 or 5.4 percent.

Of that, $727,299 are positions that are returning to the general fund budget after a three-year displacement to the federal fund as a result of federal ARRA grant money. That figure reflects the salaries of 16.06 FTE positions.

Without that increase, the increase for the instructional portion of the budget is about $1.7 million or 3.8 percent.

The Teaching – Regular School budget is proposed to come in at a little less than $26 million or $989,792 or 3.96 percent.

Also at the meeting, Director of Communications Patricia Burgio discussed improvements to the newsletter to stress the many positive accomplishments by the district and the students as it shares information with the public.

Burgio said the idea is “to really tell the story in an annual report format what those dollars really represent. It’s more than just the charts and the graphs, but it’s the story as well.”

The next board meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday, March 11 at the Central Avenue Board Room. A work session will immediately follow.



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