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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Relocating pupils reduces urgency for redistricting

By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
— The urgency to initiate major redistricting citywide has “definitely lessened” after it appears relocating about 100 kindergartners from Mathewson School to Pumpkin Delight School has solved the issue, according to a top school administrator.
Deputy Superintendent of Operations Philip G. Russell said the decision to continue for a second year sending the estimated 100 kindergartners from overcrowded Mathewson to Pumpkin Delight, and information that enrollment is not likely to spike, has decreased “the urgency” to complete a school census.
The school board has under taken a school population study, and after the first mailing to about 17,000 dwellings, 50.3 percent of questionnaires were returned. A second mailing resulted in an additional 600 responses, which then boosted the percentage returned to 57 percent.
But Russell said more recently the responses surpassed 60 percent, and the goal is to hit a 70 percent response rate.
School officials are asking parents how many children they have and the children’s ages. It’s most important that the district determine where children from birth to 4 are located, officials said.
The board has until February to make a decision.
School board Chairman David Hourigan, D-4, and Superintendent of Schools Harvey B. Polansky recently met with City Planner David Sulkis, who said there are 273 acres of undeveloped farmland in Milford. It will not likely be developed for at least 10 years, Hourigan reported.
The chairman said if the land were fully developed, it could yield more than 200 houses. But he said it’s unlikely the enrollment would then spike significantly.
Russell said the housing information was a critical piece in the redistricting puzzle. “Future housing developments are the biggest impact on the system,” he said.
Polansky has stated that there would be no new redistricting plan adopted for the next school year, and if there were one, it wouldn’t be until 2009-10 at the “earliest.”
The school board is discussing the issue of redistricting due to overcrowding at Mathewson Elementary School.


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