With overcrowding in many Newton elementary schools — and increased capacity soon to be developed in some of them (Angier, Zervas, Cabot) — the School Committee has created the Student Assignment Working Group to analyze elementary school districts and propose alternatives for revising district boundaries to better balance school populations. It’s never easy, and there are a lot of competing needs to consider.

At the March 26 School Committee meeting, the SAWG and its consultant presented four preliminary scenarios (PDF) for discussion. (See NewTV’s video of the meeting here.) The SAWG’s draft criteria for evaluating scenarios are listed here. The SAWG continues to develop additional scenarios, and the School Committee is seeking public feedback, including through a public hearing yet to be scheduled.

Slide 4 of the SAWG presentation shows how our elementary school populations have grown over the last ten years (highest to lowest):

Lincoln-Eliot: 47%, Burr: 35%, Mason-Rice: 31%, Horace Mann: 29%, Bowen: 27%, Underwood: 24%, Cabot: 17%, Ward: 16%, Angier: 11%, Williams: 11%, Zervas: 8%, Franklin: 7%, Peirce: 7%, Countryside: 4%, Memorial Spaulding: 2%

That’s a lot of north-side and east-side growth. Some question the rationale for the upcoming >50% expansion of Zervas on its small (but soon to be expanded) lot — in part because of the significant transportation issues and changes in school boundaries that must be addressed for Zervas to relieve overcrowding in other areas. Nevertheless, the School Committee has made it clear that with regard to the Zervas project, as we say in Newton, “that train has left the station.”  Not like this, I hope.

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