Parents speak out about Lewiston schools redistricting

10:46 PM, Dec 13, 2012   |    comments
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LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The city's superintendent is getting feedback from parents about a controversial plan to redistrict Lewiston's elementary schools.

According to superintendent Bill Webster, 25 new students enrolled in Lewiston schools last week alone. Overcrowding is one of the reasons officials are considering redistricting. The other is diversity.

Webster says the number of students receiving free and reduced lunch and the number of English language learners is far higher at some schools than others. A committee has come up with a plan to even out those numbers. But parents at Wednesday's meeting were upset at the idea that their children may have to leave their neighborhood schools.

There are two schools that would be unaffected by the changes. Those two schools have the highest rates of English language learners and free and reduced lunch, and that puzzles one of the parents. 

"This committee is trying to determine neighborhood schools versus diversity schools and they've chosen the diversity model," says Chris Raymond. "But within that they're keeping neighborhood schools within the city and ironically its in the areas where there probably should be the most diversity."

Joanna Quimby says she believes that the rediscricting plan should be based on a family's distance from the school.
"Why should my daughter go like two major streets away to go to another school so that children from Knox street, that's far, go all the way up to Geiger. That's the furthest school away," says Quimby. "That makes absolutely no sense. For what? Diversity? What are we talking about? Shuffling around free and reduced meals."
Webster will meet with parents at each of the elementary schools. The redistricting committee will present it's final plan to the school board in February.


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