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Lewiston Considers Plan to Redraw School Boundaries
11/21/2012   Reported By: Samantha Fields

A new proposal on the table in Lewiston would redraw the boundaries for a number of elementary schools. City officials say the proposed redistricting is aimed at easing overcrowding, and balancing out the number of low-income students and English language learners at different schools. Samantha Fields has more.

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Lewiston Considers Plan to Redraw School Boundarie
Originally Aired: 11/21/2012 5:30 PM

The proposal is still in the early stages. But here's the gist:  Twenty-three percent of students in Lewiston are English language learners. Sixty-seven percent qualify for free or reduced meals. And some elementary schools have significantly more students who fall into one or both of those categories.

The redistricting plan, which was brought to the Lewiston School Committee earlier this week, would send about 8 percent of elementary students to a different school next year. Fourth, fifth and sixth graders would be allowed to stay at their current schools - as would their siblings.

Jim Handy is on both the redistricting committee, and the school committee. He says the proposal is aimed at furthering equity in education across the community, "So that no matter where one goes in Lewiston, to whatever school, they're going to have a quality education."

The idea is that spreading out students who need so-called ELL services, and those who qualify for free or reduced meals, will go a long way toward achieving parity across the city's schools - and preventing what Handy calls "pockets of poverty."

But School Committee member Sonia Taylor disagrees with the approach. She doesn't think it would benefit students. And she says it doesn't seem fair to families who may have bought homes in a particular neighborhood to be near a certain school. 

"They've worked hard to get themselves established in neighborhoods that they feel that that environment is the environment they want their children brought up in," she says. "Along with that, some move into areas because they like the school. They find that a particular school that they've picked out for their children is the one that their child is going to thrive best in."

Jim Handy says that redistricting - on any scale - is never easy. And that there will be plenty of community discussion about the proposal before it moves forward.

Much of that will take place in December and January, when a series of public meetings is scheduled at the different elementary schools. Both Handy and Taylor say they're hoping that families from around the city will weigh in on the plan.



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