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Our view: Ashland tackles school attendance areas the right way

Ashland school administrators are touching the third rail of public education — school attendance areas — and they're doing it willingly. Fortunately, it also appears they're doing it correctly by involving parents up front and laying out a logical decision-making process.

Faced with the issue of balancing class sizes and balancing student populations at three elementary schools, the district has a fairly straight-forward plan for determining where incoming students will attend. Students who live in a school zone get first preference, as they should, followed by in-district students who do not live in the school zone and, finally, students from outside the district requesting an inter-district transfer. In each of those cases, having a sibling already at the school improves the chances of placement in their school of choice.

The process is all the better because Ashland parents had a role in developing it by making their preferences known at a January town hall meeting. Parents are also consulted during parent-teacher conferences, asked their preferences and given the guidelines so they know where they stand in the process.

This is all made necessary, of course, by the facts of life: School populations don't always work out to neat classroom sizes. In Ashland, the projected number of students in any single grade at an individual school ranges from 60 to 32. With elementary class sizes generally in the mid-20s, that leaves too many or too few kids per classroom.

Fixing that is not easy, but it helps that a well-thought-out plan is in place.