Portland School Board to discuss redistricting

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PORTLAND — The School Board is scheduled to explore the option of redistricting in a workshop Tuesday night.

According to Peter Eglinton, School Department chief operations officer, the process of redistricting could look at addressing short-term changes with regard to enrollment and potential task forces.

But no decision has been made.

“Staff’s recommendation is that any process start with a community conversation on enrollment trends and demographic trends; school locations and conditions; current district boundaries; grade span reconfiguration options; vision for facilities and transportation; focus on neighborhood schools versus learning models, and efforts to improve the condition of all of our elementary schools,” Eglinton said.

The redistricting process would examine where population and enrollment have grown significantly, he said, and take into account the operating capacity of schools within those zones.

The process could help balance student populations in schools across the district, Eglinton said.

He said that according to Planning Decisions and the New England School Development Council, the Portland Public Schools could see an enrollment increase of between about 250 and 375 students by 2019. From 2008 to 2011, elementary enrollment alone has increased by 184 students, Eglinton said.

“Increasing enrollment is often welcomed news for a school district,” he said. “Nevertheless, the short-term impacts on an individual school with limited capactiy can be significant. Given that several of our elementary schools are at or above their planned operating capacity, the time is right to consider limited redistricting to address the needs for the 2013-2014 school year, and to lay the groundwork for a more thorough assessment as we pursue a new building for Hall Elementary School.”

Any action would not be planned until the spring of 2013, Eglinton said.

Tuesday’s meeting is at 7 p.m. in Room 250 of Casco Bay High School, 196 Allen Ave.

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.