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Newton Student Placement Policy open to community input

By Laura Paine/Staff Writer

Wicked Local Newton
Posted Oct 12, 2010 @ 11:55 PM
Last update Oct 13, 2010 @ 08:08 AM

Newton — With consideration of the growth of enrollment in Newton Public Schools, the
Student Placement Policy Task Force has drafted a preliminary policy to discuss and define
student assignments to schools outside of their districts, as well as the placement of non-
resident Newton students.
At the Oct. 12 School Committee meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Business and
Finances Sandra Guryan presented the committee with the draft Recommendation of Student
Placement Policy.
“We spent several months reviewing the existing practices and policies, going over a great
deal of data, including enrollment information, which was needed to inform our thinking
about this, including some different and news way of looking at enrollment so that we could
figure out what were we really trying to accomplish,” Guryan said.
She further stated that over the last several years, the elementary school population had
been close to equally split among the schools and the plan previously put in place allowed for
the transfers of students coming in and out of the schools. Currently, feeder schools are
feeding slightly more to South at the elementary level. The key point Guryan discussed was
changing the terminology for choice or optional zones.
“We recommend renaming the optional or choice zones to become buffer zones,” she said
“We think this will be a good idea because it might become a misnomer to say there is full
choice when we have space constraints across the district. Everything [is] subject to space
Deputy Superintendent Paul Stein said that one of the big concepts is looking at enrollment
many years out, as one of the questions while making these decisions is whether or not a
bigger enrollment issue will be created in the future. The exception to the buffer zone rule is
students who live in the area of Mason-Rice.
“The only exception to the buffer zones is the one mile zone around North for the Mason-
Rice families,” Stein said. “That zone is not considered a buffer zone, so the families in that
area would truly get to decide which of the two high schools they would want to go to.”
Joseph Russo, assistant superintendent for elementary education, said the drafted policy
has made things more clear for parents with multiple children placed outside of their
assigned district.
“We made it more realistic for families in that once you have been accepted as an out of
district, the family can continue through without reapplying for out of district,” Russo said.
“We think that will make life easier for those families and siblings that follow.”
Guryan admits that the policy may come across as saying there will not be room for out of
district placements, but this would not be the case as there is movement in and out of all of
the schools.
“I think this is an area that we need to get all the input and keep considering,” she said. “I
don’t think it’s possible to get something like this exactly right on the first time out. One of
our goals is to get School Committee and community input before proceeding further.”
A public hearing for the Student Placement Policy Task Force is scheduled for 6:30 - 7:30
p.m. on Oct. 25, prior to the regularly scheduled School Committee meeting in the Education
Center, Frazier Room #210 at 100 Walnut St. The community is welcome to express their
thoughts, concerns and to share in discussion about the policy.

Laura Paine can be reached at

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