Redistricting plans studied for Onteora

By Jay Braman Jr.
The Onteora School Board will be taking a long, hard look at the problem of class sizes in the district over the next few months, and acknowledges that one solution may be redistricting.
At a recent meeting, many board members as well as some administrators agreed that the best class size for the district would be between 18 and 22 students. It was noted however, that in some cases, like in the fifth grade at the Phoenicia school, there would be 28 come the start of classes next week.
Trustee Dan Spencer pointed out that recent elections have shown the community wants to keep the district’s three elementary schools open rather than consolidate students in two schools. One way to accomplish the goals of reducing class sizes and keeping all the schools open is to redraw district lines through population clusters instead of municipal borders.
“We seem to have the right amount of kids and the right amount of buildings,” Spencer said.
It was agreed that the board would begin taking a look at possibilities by first accumulating information on district lines and population, expecting that Dave Moraca, the district’s director of transportation, will provide the board with maps and grids so they can start at the September 22 meeting.
Board president Laurie Osmond said the issue should be examined from a point of view that puts students first.
“It’s very important that we approach this from an educational standpoint and how class size affects our kids and which kids it affects,” she said.