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How Are You Affected by Walled Lake Schools Redistricting?

The planned closure of two elementary schools in West Bloomfield may force transfer students at other schools to move, too, which upsets some parents.

The subdivisions of Westwind Lake Village and Park Ridge in West Bloomfield are home to several young families who comprise a rather unique community.

Over the past several years, Randi Carrick and parents of 23 students in the Walled Lake Consolidated School District have transferred their children from nearby  to .

That sense of community, they fear, is threatened by the planned closures of Twin Beach and  in the spring. Three redistricting proposals are being considered by the Walled Lake Board of Education, two of which include a plan to "reset" transfer students back to their "home school," which has stirred up controversy.

"We feel like we're losing our home," said Carrick, who serves on Pleasant Lake's PTA along with neighbors Carrie Kovan and Elise Otis. "We have 23 kids total here who will be taken out of their school and placed in a new environment. We feel like the district has taken into consideration that large groups should be moved together in order to avoid side effects from the shock of moving, but they're not considering the effect this will have on our kids."

A 54-person redistricting committee appointed devised three plans based on specified parameters, including the maximum load of available facilities, maintaining a balance of diversity and keeping neighborhoods together. Walled Lake has 238 transfer students, and Superintendent Kenneth Gutman has said that regardless of the proposal that passes, there will still be an option to transfer in the district. 

The options available don't satisfy Carrick or her neighbors, who have been "zoned" as "area R1" by the committee. Several spoke out at the  with a petition signed by 14 area families and a posterboard with the school pictures of the 23 students.

"Our school is not closing," Carrick said. "We want to keep our feeder pattern — to go from Pleasant Lake to  and then Central – and that might be taken away."

Carrick makes clear that planning redistricting has likely been a long, stressful endeavor for those involved and that she supports the district's "very transparent" behavior with what has happened throughout the process. However, it would be too much to leave their school, she said.

"This neighborhood has given a lot of time and dedication to (Pleasant Lake) by fundraising and it's obviously helped the district in doing so," Carrick said. "We really want them to hear what we have to say about it."

Superintendent issues recommendation

Gutman announced his recommendation of plan "B/C" at Thursday's board meeting, citing the sole plan as the one that would not "reset" transfer students as a factor in his decision. Plan "B/C" is actually presented to include two options: one that "resets" and one that does not.

Gutman also cited the plan only asking students to move from three schools — Commerce, Guest and Oakley Park — not including those at Maple and Twin Beach, as good reasons for his recommendation.

According to information on the district's website Thursday, 229 students not including those at Maple and Twin Beach would be moved, which is the lowest number of the three plans. 

"Plan 'B/C' expressed a compelling rationale to move as few students as possible, which it does, and when it moves them it moves them in large groups rather than isolating individuals," he said.

The board is expected to decide on a plan at its next meeting Feb. 16.

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