William Tan 0

Alternatives to Proposed Sharon Elementary School Redistricting

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On or about December 9, 2009 the Sharon School Committee approved a "24 Month District Improvement Plan."  One of the primary goals identified in this plan was to assemble a Redistricting Task Force, specifically to "Evaluate structure. Consider reconfiguring elementary schools K-1, 2-3, 4-5 etc. or in other ways to create efficiency, to balance classes, etc. [Classrooms: Cottage 21, East 21, Heights 26]."

Based upon the "24 Month District Improvement Plan” approved by the Sharon School Committee , a panel comprised of  twelve (12) volunteer members convened in or around April 27,2010 to consider various  options, including but not limited to, grade reconfiguration (assigning schools by grade instead of by neighborhood), before settling on three options presented at the March 28 open meeting.  All three options call for a redistricting for the 2012-2013 school year, moving approximately 100-150 children from Cottage to East, and Heights to Cottage.  

On March 28, 2011, the task force presented their findings and recommended options during an open meeting held at SHS.  Following the task force meeting, it became evident that many parents were concerned with the options set forth by the task force.  Specifically, there was considerable concern expressed among parents regarding the likely adverse impact that the potential redistricting plan would have on the young children.  Further, many parents expressed a strong desire to acquire more concrete information concerning the various proposals as well as additional time to digest and review such proposals.  Subsequent to the open meeting, a group of concerned parents held a meeting at the Community Center on April 8, 2011 which led to the formation of the "Sharon Redistricting Parents Group".   As more parents are becoming aware of the proposals, and the implications thereof, it is anticipated that this group will be substantial in number.  

On April 27, 2011, members of the task force presented their findings to the Sharon School Committee at SHS.  Also present at this meeting were various members of the “Sharon Redistricting Parents Group” and other concerned parents and individuals.  During the presentation, it was disclosed by Timothy Farmer (as a representative of the Task Force), that the town had received on or about April 26, a letter from the attorney representing Intoccia Properties, indicating that any significant development of residential units on the Sharon Common site would likely be “seven to eight years” out.  After the task force presentation, an open comment period for parents was held during which approximately 30 parents spoke.


First, the Sharon Redistricting Parents Group (SPRG) acknowledges and appreciates the time commitment and effort put forth by the School Committee, and the volunteer Task Force in working toward developing a plan that would benefit our children and their education.  Without their efforts, Sharon would not have one of the best school systems in the state.  

To be clear, the SPRG is not necessarily against the concept of redistricting.  That being said however, we strongly believe that the need and/or benefits of implementing a plan as suggested by the task force have not been adequately proven to date.  Additionally, members of the SPRG continue to run into parents in the affected districts that are unaware of the proposed redistricting.  We continue to urge school officials to contact all affected families so that they can be part of the discourse.

During the discussions at the April 27 School Committee meeting, it became abundantly clear that the timetables for any significant residential developments (Sharon Commons, Brickstone, etc.) were so far in the future that they should not be considered as a factor at this time.  The numbers presented by the task force also showed that any overcrowding in the schools would be resolved without redistricting by the 2012-2013 school year, when the task force redistricting plan is proposed to be implemented.

The real problem facing Sharon is the decreased enrollment at East Elementary, and the difficulty sustaining educational parity there when faced with the possible loss of resources.  We feel that the town has a responsibility to address the East situation, and that there may be ways to do this without rushing into one of the proposed redistricting options.  Numerous studies have shown that school mobility for young children is generally not beneficial but rather detrimental to their social and academic growth.   Thus, before implementing any of the redistricting options presented by the task force, we believe that it is incumbent upon the school committee to consider all other options.  

It is our recommendation that the current or a new Task Force be constituted to investigate less disruptive ways of solving this problem.   At the April 27 meeting, parents suggested options such as creating a choice program for non-district students to attend East, or bringing back the Alternative School.  Multigrade classrooms may also be a tool to create optimal class sizes.  As we know, many families were upset with the elimination of the Alternative School, and bringing it back could be a double win.  If these or other options can solve the low-enrollment problem at East without forcing our children to switch schools, they would be met with far less opposition.


We call on the School Committee to not enact any of the recommended redistricting proposals in the near term.  We instead call on you to renew or reconstitute the Redistricting Task Force to further look at the issues raised in this letter.  These findings, in conjunction with the redistricting proposals set force by the current committee, will ensure that we make the best possible decision for our children.   It would serve the community and our children for the school committee to take its time and develop a plan that would be warmly received rather than abruptly implement a plan that would result in community division.  We intend to file a signed petition to support our request.  Given the substantial number of parents against implementing a redistricting plan as proposed by the task force, we urge you to carefully consider the school committees position before acting.

Thank you for your consideration.


1. See http://www.sharon.k12.ma.us/dunham_items/01626523-000F4C32.0/2010-12%20Supt%20&%20School%20Committee%2024%20Month%20GOALS.pdf

2. It should be noted that within one week of formation, the size of the group has grown to sixty-five parents.

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