Superintendent Fleishman’s Commencement Speech Controversy

Redistricting Update from David Fleishman

May 22, 2015

Dear Newton Families,

Given that we are coming to a critical juncture for the first phase of student assignment changes, I thought it would be useful to give you an update.  The Student Assignment Working Group (SAWG) is working hard to come up with solutions that use the capacity we will soon have available at Angier, Zervas and Cabot to alleviate over-crowding while disrupting the least number of families and neighborhoods.

As the process advances from the scenario development and testing phase to the proposal stage, we are seeking input from a range of stakeholders in the community.  This past Monday night, we had a very constructive public forum where a range of issues were discussed.

It is anticipated that the SAWG will recommend a preferred option or proposal before the beginning of the next school year.  The goal is to make a decision in a timely fashion so there will be adequate time to communicate with those families who will be impacted.

Below is some important information regarding student assignment decision-making.

  1. The Newton School Committee, Superintendent and district administration are committed to minimizing disruption for students and families.  Therefore, student assignment policy changes will only effect incoming students in kindergarten through grade 5.  The policy changes will not impact students who are already enrolled in Newton Public Schools.
  2. Student assignment policy changes will not impact siblings of enrolled elementary students.  We do not expect families to have children enrolled at more than one elementary school.
  3. Evaluation criteria were developed at the beginning of the process in order to ensure that objective, fair and clear criteria are used in a transparent decision-making process.  These criteria will be used to evaluate which scenarios are most viable and could become preferred options.

Please understand that we will be addressing one other aspect of student assignment prior to the proposal and this involves expanding the elementary school buffer zones. A buffer zone is a defined area for which individual addresses may be assigned to more than one elementary school.  Families living within a buffer zone can request a school for their newly registered student but the final assignment decision is made by the district and is dependent upon available space.

The use of buffer zones as a tool to both manage enrollment and achieve equitable class sizes at schools has been critical in times of rising enrollment and capacity issues at schools.  This year, 15% of Newton Public School elementary students live in buffer zones.

On May 27th, the School Committee will be reviewing the proposal to create additional buffer zones to ensure that we will have equitable class sizes and reasonable school capacity in the next several years.  Given that the practice of our system has been to notify families of their child’s school assignment by June 1st, the School Committee is likely to vote on this proposal that same night.

Attached is a Frequently Asked Questions document, which provides important information on the student assignment process and buffer zones.  We will be certain to keep you well informed as this process continues.

Student Assignment Review FAQ


Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

(from David Fleishman, Superintendent)

Superintendent Fleishman’s Commencement Speech Controversy

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