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Parents: Safety, Community Priorities in Redistricting

Group of parents urges school officials to keep kids from crossing dangerous intersections or change buildings halfway through elementary school.

Safe walking routes to school and a strong sense of community are two major concerns for parents as Arlington Public Schools continue to work on redistricting to alleviate overcrowding at some schools. 

The latest updates came on Tuesday night, when the Redistricting Committee met at 's sixth-floor meeting room. The room was crowded with more than 80 parents, several of which mentioned safety and community as their priorities in the process.

Parent Rebecca Peterson told committee members that a group of parents was concerned about their kids slated to go to . 

“This would change our 12-minute walk through residential areas to a 25-minute walk through not one, but two of the most accident-prone intersections in town,” Peterson said.

For Christine Hyatt, safety is a big issue. But moving her daughter from to the district would have other implications.

“Some of my concerns really revolve around the sense of community that we all keep talking about,” she said. “By the time the draft map gets put into place, my daughter would have spent three years at the Hardy School.”

She added, “I think we really need to look at not just numbers. We need to look at the kids, too.”

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie reminded parents that the redistricting process is still a work in progress. Most of the lines currently drafted can still change, and those changes will mostly come from direct parent feedback to committee members.

On Tuesday, the committee shrunk the Peirce district while increasing Dallin. The Brackett district also received a few extra blocks from. 

Schools Chief Financial Officer Diane Johnson said redistricting involves a great deal of calculations and assumptions to determine how many students will enroll in coming years.

But there are two construction projects in town that could throw off the balance: The former Brigham's Ice Cream headquarters and the . Both projects could add some young families, but there is no telling how many for now, Johnson said.

"Redistricting is a complex and painful process," she added. "Our assumptions have to be based on the best knowledge we have right now in the hopes of doing the right thing in the long term."

Bodie said parents with specific concerns should contact their school liaison in the Redistricting Committee. Questions can be directed to each school's council or PTO.

The superintendent added an updated draft map would be available soon for download. Check back on Arlington Patch for a copy of the map as soon as it becomes available.

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