To rezone or not to rezone? That was the burning question discussed at the Sept. 14 Board of Education meeting, but Levittown parents were left without any final resolution.
The rezoning plan, which would potentially affect over two dozen current Levittown students, focuses around the changing of the catchment area of Wisdom Lane Middle School and Division Avenue High School to fully include the current Abbey Lane Elementary School attendance zone. The rezoning issue originally came up at the July 5 Board of Education meeting, but Superintendent James Grossane pulled the motion from the agenda at that time because he felt it needed further review and consideration.
“I did ask the board to set it aside and table it at that point in time,” said Grossane at the Sept. 14 meeting, in response to public comments from Levittown residents concerned about potential changes. “I don’t know how far impacting a decision like that is. Being that I’m new to the district, I wanted to be able to gather information. I asked for a board subcommittee to form, and we have met. We are looking at the numbers. Salk Middle School has approximately 200 more students than Wisdom Lane, so we’re seeing if it makes sense to balance that number, and if down the road that would lead to some kind of savings to the district. We’re only in the preliminary stages. It is under investigation, but no final decision has been made.”
Four of the eight speakers in the Public Be Heard segment of the evening discussed rezoning, and none of them were in favor of the plan. “I purchased my house specifically for Abbey, Salk and MacArthur,” said Levittown resident Mary Anne Russo. “If there was a rezoning issue, I wish I would have been told that before I purchased my house. I probably would not have purchased a house in this area if I had known about rezoning. It’s unfair to us to have to rezone. There are people that are closer to Division and Wisdom, but they go to Salk and MacArthur, so I think if there’s a rezoning, it should be according to distance.”
“When you buy a house, you are really buying the district,” responded Board of Education Trustee Edward Powers. “You aren’t buying the school, and you have to take that into consideration. The catchment area of any elementary, middle or high school runs the risk of being changed at any given time. I don’t know if there’s a stigma against Division Avenue High School, but in theory you can swap the teachers from MacArthur and Division, and they are all the same qualified, professional people who have made the district what it is. Truthfully, the Levittown District will determine the value of your home more so than the individual school, per se. We have teachers constantly moving between the two buildings.”
“Our schools are in the top three percent in the entire nation,” added Board of Education President Michael Pappas. “Both of our schools, not just MacArthur.”
In other matters, Levittown students Savva Papadopoulos and James Riley presented a heart-warming tribute to Kim Foglia, a beloved Division Avenue Biology teacher who lost her life on Jan. 4 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. The students will honor her memory with a special vegetable garden at Division Avenue High School, which will be used to help feed the hungry. The garden is slated to be built by the end of the current school year.
Superintendent Grossane also gave his report on the first week of the new full-day kindergarten program. “It was raining on the first day of school, so that threw a little monkey wrench into the first day,” said Grossane. “We had a new bell schedule, so everyone was getting used to that, including myself. All the children arrived and looked happy to be in school. We were very fortunate with all our full-day kindergarten students. It went very well, and by all reports, they handled the first full-day of kindergarten very well. They were tired the first day, but not as tired the next. As all of you, a five-year old can be very resilient when they choose to be. They have really adapted very well. All their new furniture is in. Regarding the buses, the first day was a little slow, but there has been an improvement each day. We’re off to a great start to the school year.”
The Board of Education meets Sept. 12 for a planning session and Oct. 12 for a regular meeting. All Board of Education meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. at the Levittown Memorial Education Center.