Waiver…How the heck?????

During a recent series of articles in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune, information about a newly elected official in our city was disclosed.
This official stated that he has lived in the city since 2008. Residence has been in the West and then the Central and again in the West district.
The Official noted that he has a son who attends school in the West district. He had received a waiver to attend the West district school even when he lived in the Central district.
I was contacted by a concerned parent/citizen who asked, with all the emphasis on removing students who cannot prove residence, how does this official get a waiver to allow his son to attend an out of district school?

Well, the answer will surprise you.
Let’s look at the School Committee policies.
There is a policy on Assignment to schools.
This policy states:”Each school within the school system is defined by attendance boundaries set by the Committee. It is generally expected that youngsters will attend the school within the attendance district of his/her residence. However, the Committee recognizes that there are situations in which it is beneficial to both the youngster and the school system to allow a placement outside of the attendance district. The Superintendent is authorized to grant or deny written requests for individuals to attend a school outside designated attendance areas according to the following guidelines:

Some of those guidelines are:
“2. When a youngster moves to a new residence and that new residence is in a different attendance district, a request to remain at the previously assigned school will be honored subject to the availability of space in the school.

4. In all cases in which a placement outside of the attendance district of residence is granted, parents will assume the responsibility for transportation to and from school.”

So it appears that the criteria to look at is the availability of space in the school..
The policy even states each schools space.
“A school is deemed to have space available if the total enrollment of the school is at or below its design capacity and the classroom to which the youngster is assigned will not exceed twenty-five students.”

Comprehensive Grammar School ——————–Design Capacity 1200 students
Marsh Grammar School ———————————-Design Capacity 1370 students
Tenney Grammar School ——————————–Design Capacity 1370 students
Timony Grammar School ——————————-Design Capacity 1370 students

I do not know the age of this officials child or what grade the child is in. It is actually irrelevant to the discussion.
Let’s look at school enrollment for the period in question. Keep in mind that children in the Central district will attend ,usually, the Timony School.

From the Department of Education website for Massachusetts we find;

Year  Marsh Timony Tenney
2007 1397 1456 1446
2008 1370 1427 1427
2009 1366 1454 1431
2010 1342 1437 1375
2011 1328 1379 1376

So the truth is that the Tenney and Timony schools have been over capacity for the period in question and per the published policy it was well within the discretion of the Superintendent to grant the waiver and even made sense to exacerbate overcrowding.

The newly elected official was, probably, just trying to maintain continuity in the child’s life and probably didn’t realize the additional benefit to the school system of his request.

The good news is that the data shows the School District has been making strides to even out the student count in our schools.

Hope this answers any questions about this issue.

admin posted at 2011-12-15 Category: City Council, School

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