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Posted: 03/26/14

RCS board to take second
look at re-districting

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Families in Romeo Community Schools are seeking relief from situations where their students will go to two different middle schools at once.
       On March 17, the Board of Education requested administration to look over current and future data on the effects of re-districting the middle school boundaries.
       The board and residents expressed concerns about families that have to send their students to both Powell Middle School (PMS) and Romeo Middle School (RMS) due to changing the school's boundaries in 2013.
       The re-districting changed the boundary so any students north of 29 Mile Road and west of Campground Road will go to RMS. Administrators said this would move about 100 students in three years, balancing the numbers between PMS and RMS.
       "This was an attempt on the part of administration to try to equalize the schools over a three-year period," said Superintendent Nancy Campbell.
       Out of 28 affected families, 16 will have students go to separate middle schools next year. Dawn Libby is one such parent, having a seventh-grade student at PMS and a fifth-grade student at Indian Hills Elementary.
       "I'm not sure if you could imagine what this has actually done to the families," she said. "My girls actually question their safety within their school and not being able to watch out for each other."
       She said the re-districting could cause problems for families as they split their time to attend sports events and school activities.
       Kristie Karwowicz will suffer from the same problem, and asked the board to create a grandfather clause for the families that have students at PMS.
       "There will be a lot of scheduling conflicts by having two students in two different middle schools," she said. "This will mean that one of my children will have to make unnecessary sacrifices."
       Trustee Sara Murray made allusions to Nazi Germany when referring to the re-districting, saying the district shouldn't dictate where families have to send their students.
       "It's disturbing to see that families were not allowed to be grandfathered into the school that they're at," she said.
       Murray made a motion to grandfather in any families that wish to stay at PMS, but the motion died from a lack of support.
       Vice-president Chris Giancarli said he would be in favor of a motion to re-evaluate the re-districting, but wasn't going to simply grandfather everyone to their current schools.
       "We may then have to look at how we adjust that answer," he said.
       Campbell said the board would have to set specific dates if they were to grandfather families into their current schools, otherwise it would be an ongoing problem.
       "Just know that you'll be asked to revisit this year after year after year," she said.
       Campbell said when the board approved of the re-districting it was with the intention that families could keep their students together by having both go to RMS. She said the plan was to move 28 students in the first and second year each and 41 in the third year.
       Board President Ed Sosnoski said he would like the situation to be addressed in May, saying the hope is that the district could give families a choice of going to PMS or RMS.
       "We're not trying to re-invent the wheel," he said.
       Trustees Anita Banach said she wished to hold off on any decisions since she would like to re-examine the issue with updated numbers.
       "I'm not ready to reverse anything, but I'm certainly open to having a little bit of time," she said.
       Campbell said she would work with principals and transportation staff to come up with the data.


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