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Board votes on school change

| Wednesday, March 7, 2001

By next week, more than 100 Richland Elementary School students will know whether they will have not only a different classroom but also a different school in the coming academic year.

School board officials are expected to vote March 15 on a redistricting plan that would move the children from Richland Elementary School to the newly remodeled Hance Elementary School.

The change would affect about 160 students, including an estimated 25 children who are to start kindergarten in the fall.

The plan is the culmination of nearly six months of work by district officials and community members.

Most of the affected students live along Hardt Road, Richland Road, Babcock Boulevard and Route 910 in Pine Township and in the Karrington Woods plan in Pine Township.

While most residents have accepted the move as necessary, school Superintendent James Manley said he understands the emotional chaos that comes with redistricting.

'I don't think that there's anything that is closer to a parent's heart than when you talk about change in the life of their child,' Manley said. 'I know what parents are feeling through this whole project.'

The redistricting study has ended three years of specualation over whether the district would need to build a new elementary school, Assistant Superintendent Robert Johnson said.

'I think that was one of the major concerns of the district, considering the expense,' he said.

Johnson said redistricting will allow the district to accommodate all incoming students without building a new school or incurring other expenses.

The next step, Manley said, is to form a transition team to help students, parents and teachers adjust to their new school.

'There will be a buddy system. What does it mean to be a buddy• They will send e-mail correspondence and so forth,' he said.

Manley also said the administration hopes to let students know who their new teachers will be before the end of the current school year.

Other activities could include a 'move-over' day organized by the Hance Parent-Teacher Organization and closing day activities at Richland Elementary for the departing children.

Officials were ready to make the formal recommendation last month but delayed action in order to re-evaluate the latest information from planning consultant Dan Dancu.

Dancu's past enrollment projections have been within 1 percent of the actual enrollment per building.

Mark Berton can be reached at mberton@tribweb.com or (724) 779-7108.

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