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A small but vocal audience attending a public information session Tuesday in Clarence Center Elementary School quizzed Superintendent Thomas G. Coseo on the district's plan to redraw elementary attendance areas.

The change in attendance areas will take place with the opening of new classroom additions at Harris Hill and Sheridan Hill elementary schools. The 12-room additions are currently scheduled for completion in the fall of 2002.

Because the new construction will equalize the size of the district's four elementary schools, the pupil population at Clarence Center and Ledgeview, the district's larger buildings, will be reduced, and some parents expressed concern about the effect of a move on their children.

One mother said her child is already upset at the prospect of moving to Sheridan Hill. With children entering the fourth and fifth grades in 2002, she asked if some pupils will be allowed to remain in their present buildings.

Clarence Center Principal Neil T. Burns Jr. remarked that, in a redistricting four years ago, children already attending the school were "grandfathered," or allowed to matriculate at Clarence Center, but pupils moving into the area were assigned to Sheridan Hill.

Coseo said officials would prefer to put pupils from new developments into the new additions and thus not disrupt pupils attending other schools, but the superintendent said he couldn't promise that would be the case.

"Ideally we would like to do it, but if we grandfathered everybody, building those 24 classrooms is all for naught," said Coseo, adding that there is a goal to keep neighborhoods together.

The district has hired Peter Rogerson, a geography professor at the University at Buffalo, to do an enrollment study and provide various models for the redesigning of attendance areas. The models should be available by the end of the school year.

Coseo said the School Board will consider the various options over the summer, and trustees are expected to make a decision by September. He said that will give families a year to adjust to the change.

One resident, commenting that Clarence Center has the largest attendance area and also much of the growth, wondered if redistricting will solve the problem. "It seems like (the area) will just fill up again," he said.

Coseo agreed that most of the development is in the vicinity of Clarence Center, but he said Rogerson's models will balance enrollment for a period of time.

Tuesday's session was the first of several public meetings in which Coseo will discuss the construction project, the accompanying change in attendance areas and budgetary concerns.

The next meeting is at 7 p.m. March 6 at Ledgeview Elementary School, 5150 Old Goodrich Road.

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