Mamaroneck Schools Take Flex Zoning Off the Table

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School Board Meeting at MHS, Feb 28.

 

“A deed to a house, not to the school.

The Mamaroneck School Bd has withdrawn it’s controversial Flex Zone proposal for the districts’s 4 elementary schools for the coming year.  

An audience of roughly 140 residents broke into applause when School Board member Steve Warner told the crowd Wednesday night “we hear you.”  Board President Melany Gray warned the crowd that with increased enrollment on the horizon in years to come, “The status quo really can’t exist as much as we’d like it to.”

The zones were proposed to ease expected overcrowding at Chatsworth and Murray Ave. Schools, requiring new residents on certain designated streets to send their children to Central Elementary, considered by some in the tony community to be less desirable.

 The Flex Zone sparked a heated on-line campaign that peppered the Board with emails and Facebook posts, many complaining about possible impact to home values. Observers have pointed out that Chatsworth, in particular, has a certain “snob appeal” because of it’s close proximity to “The Manor” neighborhood and classic architecture, although all the District schools are considered to be excellent.

District Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaps told the Board that his staff will begin working on alternatives to the idea during March, expecting there may be a use of enrollment deadlines with a careful monitoring of class size.  The result would be that any late registrants might be told their neighborhood school is already at capacity and possibly be sent to another district school.

“It might not be necessary,” Shaps said, “but it’s an option.”  Shaps says his staff has gone to great lengths to examine the available space and is now at the point of considering portable classrooms in future years because parts of aging buildings, like Chatsworth, simply cannot be brought up to modern standards.

As for school zoning changes, they could be back in the future, Steve Warner warned the residents that people sometimes think when they move here “I have a deed to a house and to a school. When in fact you have a deed to a house, not to the school.”

 

10 thoughts on “Mamaroneck Schools Take Flex Zoning Off the Table

  1. The reality is that moving to the Princeton Plan is the most equitable way to handle this issue. Murray Avenue has been an overcrowded mess for years, but so long as the parents kept quiet nothing was going to be done (nor did they want anything to be done, because non of them wanted to be the ones zoned out of it). Now that other some of the schools are potentially overcrowded something has to be done as the parents in the other schools are not going to just bury their heads. My home is located much closer to a school for which we are not currently zoned. As someone who had lived here nearly my whole life the walkability issue is joke…one just needs to drive down Murray, Chatsworth (or Wendt), Palmer or Mamaroneck Avenue at dismissal to know 80% of the kids are driven to school. I also looked at the zone changes when they were on the table for all the schools. They were foolish. One of the zones as proposed would have moved a substantial population out of MAS and into Central thereby increasing the already disproportionately Hispanic population at the school. Re-evaluate school space (some elementary schools have classrooms are substantially bigger than classrooms at other elementary schools), move to the Princeton Plan (K in one building, 1-2nd grade in one building, 3-4 in one building, 5 in one building), ditch dual language, provide an equitable education for every child and provide bus service for anyone more than 1 mile from their school that year. It will save money and prevent lawsuits.

  2. From Facebook: “If you don’t agree with the premise of the article, please write in to The Loop. This is out there now and does not reflect well on our community, nor does it do much to help us come together.”
    The above post is a PRIME example of “Snobbish/Elitist attitude and advocates censorship of the press. Such comments should be reserved for an editorial page.

  3. I have to disagree with the premise of this article. I live in a proposed flex zone and not one person I know held the views abou Central in this article. The two and only reasons people opposed flex zone were: because of the potential social isolation when one child is removed from its neighborhood and is going to school in a place different from all of his or neighbors and because of the walkability factors, putting a particular hardship on working families who have caregivers don’t drive. As for housing values, not being able to tell prospective buyers which school their children would go to certainly would have an impact, not Central school per se. This issue has already been divisive enough. This has nothing to do with the quality of Central. We need to come together as a community to come up with solutions to potential enrollment issues that are equitable for all. Flex zones unjustly put the burden of a community problem on only a part of the community.

  4. Sorry if I ruffled any feathers, but the “snob appeal,” quote was from a local real estate professional. I think a lot of the school’s charisma may also be a product of nostalgia by long time residents. The Board was quite clear that the Flex Zoning is off the table only because it isn’t necessary this year, in their opinion. The fact that people would “opt-in” to Central but not Murray or Chatsworth speaks for itself. And, yes it is a wonderful school, as is Mamaroneck Avenue School.

  5. Hi Carey –

    What would be your advice to prospective buyers to the area? Seems like this decision eases most of the concerns of current students/parents, but creates tremendous ambiguity for anyone trying to move to the area. We have a incoming 1st grader who would no doubt be a “late registrant.” What would you tell your clients who are concerned that they could buy a home and then be told they can’t attend the neighborhood school?

  6. I do have to disagree with the premise of the article too.

    The fundamental reason residents opposed flex zoning was that it wouldn’t solve the problem of increasing enrollment at ALL of our elementary schools. There was no way of predicting who was going to be registering from this flex zone and what would happen if not enough kids registered for Kindergarten in that flex zone? Our class sizes would have increased and that doesn’t benefit anyone.

    The alternative solutions of allowing parents to opt in to Central (a fantastic school by the way – as all of our elementary schools are) and perhaps a rolling registration deadline (if needed) will solve the near term capacity issues.

  7. I agree Carey!! Walkability attracted my family to our home purchase 20 years ago, being that we are just a couple blocks from Chatsworth school.

  8. I respectfully disagree with the premise of this article suggesting that the reason MUFSD residents opposed the Flex-Zone proposal was largely due to a negative perception of Central Elementary School. While I admit that I have not read EVERY post on the Facebook forum on which many residents voiced their concerns and opinions, I think those that implied that Central School was subpar were in the vast minority. This writer chose to highlight a sensationalistic story line, rather than a more realistic and balanced representation of the facts and resulting discussion. It is an inaccurate summary of what has unfolded as well as a poor representation of our community.

  9. Gotta disagree with notion of “snob appeal.” I’m a Chatsworth parent and a Realtor. Central School has a super reputation with Chat parents. Walkabilty was the big issue with my real estate clients. They liked Central just fine, but couldn’t walk there easily from a home that was two blocks from Chatsworth School.
    Now that flex zoning is off the table, let’s celebrate and work together on the bigger picture of taking care of our whole district.

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