Acting on a recommendation from Superintendent William McAlduff Jr., the Winchester School Committee on Thursday evening unanimously agreed to delay taking a final vote on a divisive proposal that would shuffle the town’s elementary school students.
“To be thoughtful and responsive requires more time,” McAlduff said at the outset of Thursday’s meeting, adding that he wished to further review the accuracies of the assumptions made in the proposal and report back to the five-member School Committee. “This likely means a vote would not be taken prior to June 26.”
The School Committee has scheduled another public meeting for 7 p.m. June 19 in the Winchester High School auditorium to further discuss the proposal. The discussion is expected to focus on enrollment projections for the five public elementary schools and the capacity of each school, and include an explanation of how and why the advisory committee came to recommend the proposal now before the School Committee. In all, the panel had considered 30 models.
Under the proposal, as many as 112 students would be transferred to different schools in 2013, when the new Vinson-Owen School is to open. In some cases, the shift in boundaries would mean students accustomed to walking to their neighborhood school would instead have to ride the bus or be driven to a school nearly 2 miles away.
Some parents have criticized the plan, saying it fails to consider the socio-economic consequences of moving students, such as the impact that changes in enrollment would have on a school’s access to parent volunteer hours and PTO funding. Others have voiced concern the plan would not move enough students to address enrollment issues over the long-term.
Winchester has had a surge in enrollments over the past decade, forcing educators to transform computer labs and music rooms into classrooms. To remedy that, the proposal under review would move 41 Ambrose students and 27 Lynch students to Vinson-Owen, while transferring 17 Muraco students and 27 Lincoln students to Lynch. Exceptions could be made to allow fifth-graders to finish their elementary education in their current schools.