Elementary Attendance Areas
Changes for New Kindergarten Families & New Students
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Watertown Public School Elementary Attendance Areas: Updated for Fall of 2023
School Committee Policy JC - ATTENDANCE AREAS
Attendance areas for the various schools of the town will be drawn up by the Superintendent and approved by the School Committee. The primary considerations that govern the establishment of a school attendance area are school capacity and transportation considerations. Generally, students will attend the school in the attendance area in which they live.
In establishing an attendance area, the following general guidelines will also be applied:
1. Use of safe walking conditions consistent with the Committee's transportation policies; where possible, major traffic thoroughfares and natural barriers will be used for boundaries.
2. Honoring community of interest; where possible, school attendance zones will incorporate community patterns.
From time to time an overcrowded condition in an existing school, the development of new residential areas, or the opening of a new school may require the establishment or change of previously established school attendance areas.
The Committee will confer with community representatives prior to setting new attendance lines. However, the Committee's primary basis for judgment must be equity of educational opportunity for all students rather than the personal desires of any one group.
The Superintendent is authorized to make exceptions to attendance lines for individual children in the best interests of the student and/or the school. Exceptions can be made to support class size, special programming, and other criteria established by the superintendent.
The Superintendent may exercise this authority for any of the following purposes:
• Manage disparities in class sizes between schools and/or prevent or alleviate a condition of classroom overcrowding by utilizing Buffer Zones.
• Preserve family integrity, where two or more children from a single family are of elementary school age and at risk of separation between schools.
• Assist families facing temporary dislocations or changes in their living situation. · Facilitate school construction or renovation projects.
• Provide specialized services addressing specific student needs.
• Address any other situation that the Superintendent deems to be an extenuating circumstance.
The School Committee establishes certain "Buffer Zones", addresses on or near certain elementary school district boundaries, as areas from which new students in that elementary school district may be assigned to either one of the immediate elementary school districts only when a material enrollment problem exists. Once a student is assigned to a school based on the Buffer Zones, that school will be their school through fifth grade. Subsequent assignments of siblings in a given family will be made to the same school.
All families of incoming kindergarteners or elementary students new to the district in Buffer Zones who enroll in the Watertown Public Schools before May 15 will be notified no later than June 1 of the final placement. Families living in Buffer Zones who enroll after May 15 will be assigned on a space-available basis
Use of the Buffer Zones is only done when there is a material enrollment problem between the two schools. With respect to the assignment of new families residing in Buffer Zones, class size equity is the primary driving factor of using the buffer zones. Any use of the Buffer Zones will strive for neighborhood continuity and cohesion. It should be accomplished with the least amount of disruption to families and the local community.
To determine a material enrollment problem, the Superintendent will calculate the potential class sizes at the schools using the established boundaries. When the superintendent determines there is a material enrollment issue, it should be addressed through voluntary measures first. These include the use of family preferences within the buffers. Family preferences will only be granted where they help address a material enrollment problem. Finally, if voluntary measures are not sufficient to address the material class size and enrollment issues, the Superintendent will make assignments.
Buffer Zones can be found on the attached map.
The Superintendent of Schools shall have the sole responsibility for the assignment of new families residing in Buffer Zones, in accordance with School Committee policy.
CROSS REF.: JCA, Assignment of Students to Schools
Additional Information Regarding Assignment of Students to Schools
File: JCA - ASSIGNMENT OF STUDENTS TO SCHOOLS
Generally, students will be required to attend school in the attendance area in which they reside, unless the Watertown School Superintendent has granted special permission.
Special permission may be granted for the following reasons:
1. If the change involves a hardship case, or if there are medical considerations.
2. If the change appears to be in the interests of the child, of the schools, and for disciplinary and administrative reasons. If the change is made at the request of the parent, the request must be renewed annually and may be denied on a space-available basis.
3. If the legal residence of a child changes from one attendance area to another during the school year and the parents wish the child to remain in his/her former school; permission will not extend beyond the current school year.
School bus transportation will not be provided for students attending schools outside their attendance area unless they can be accommodated on existing bus routes and schedules, or an exceptional child is involved; or unless specific permission is granted by the School Committee.
603 CMR 17.00
603 CMR 26.00
CROSS REF.: JC, Attendance Areas