Swing Streets - setting the record straight

Swing Streets - an explanation of the concept by someone fortunate enough to live on one.

As the debate continues to grow regarding possible changes to our Intermediate schools, swing streets continue to be part of the discussion. As a resident of a swing street, I have had, over the last couple of years, opportunities to experience, first-hand, the issues associated with this concept. I would like to attempt to explain this concept to all of those who are either unaware or mis-informed regarding swing streets.

A "swing street" is a street, designated by the the business office, within the Board of Education, used to balance the student population in any given year. Please note, if you try to find anything in writing on the Town of Granby website or the school system website, you will come up empty. Below is the latest list of streets with this designation as provided to me in an email from Harry Traver on April 4th of this year:

"Usually, we balance the elementary schools and class sizes using Routes 10 and 189 as the swing streets. In addition to individual residents on these streets, some apartments or condominiums might also be used for redistricting (Chatsworth, Meadowgate, Windmill Springs)  When this doesn’t yield enough students to balance, we look to both Poets’ Corner and a handful of other streets such as Sakrison, Sunny Heights, Laurel, Evergreen, and Ice Pond that are easily accessed by passing buses. "  - as written by Harry Traver

Once your child is assigned a 3rd grade school, their siblings will also attend this school. However, if the schools "swing" the following year your neighbor with a 2nd grader will be assigned to a different school. As this situation continues to develop, you end up with children, sometimes close in age, going to different schools. In some cases this eliminates the opportunity to car pool, help a neighbor, who might be in a pinch, by picking up their child and in time, this concept begins to divide a neighborhood.

Also, please bear in mind that swing streets do not change. These streets have been leaned on, for years, by the BOE, to balance the schools. No one tells you that you are a swing street when you buy your house. However, your real estate listing will tell you what Intermediate school is currently serving that area at the time you purchase. You will only find out about swing streets the first time you are impacted by the need to balance the schools. 

Should the Intermediate schools change to 3/4 and 5/6, this issue disappears. I am personally in favor of the school system staying as is, however, the system of swing streets will continue without any changes to the schools. 

Perhaps there was a time for this concept, however, as the town has grown, there is a need to find a more suitable alternative to swing streets. If we are to continue with this antiquated process, perhaps a different set of streets should be chosen every few years rather than the continued use of one group for the benefit of everyone. 

In closing, I ask you to take a moment and consider what your street or neighborhood might be like if you were asked to bear the burden of flipping schools on demand. Once you have thought about this, you will better understand what it is like to live this reality.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Danielle Sandridge November 16, 2012 at 12:05 PM
You make some very good points. Swing streets is one of the bigger reasons cited in favor of school reconfigurtion. However, why do we need to make such a drastic change? Our leaders are smart people and I am confident they can find a different solution to the swing street issue.
Steve Lynch November 16, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I agree Danielle and I would prefer the schools were left as is. There must be a fair solution to this issue that would not involve such large change.
Granby November 16, 2012 at 04:48 PM
The swing street issue seems ridiculous and is easily solved by reconfiguring the schools. I really see more pros than cons to reconfiguring, they need to just do it and it will be fine.
Granby November 16, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Sorry I meant it seems ridiculous that there IS even a swing street issue, I would be very upset if I lived on a swing street not knowing where my children may end up in school.
kelsey Aldrich November 16, 2012 at 05:03 PM
I fell that by changing the schools to one being 3/4 and the 5/6 neighborhoods will be split up even more. We will lose any sort of community. Both of the schools here in town are wonderful! A little rivalry is a good thing. I live on a "swing" street and I do not feel there is a problem.
Sara Scotto November 16, 2012 at 05:19 PM
By splitting the schools into 3/4 and 5/6 the entire town will be subjected to the same issues that the author points out as bothersome with swing streets. For example, "you end up with children, sometimes close in age, going to different schools. In some cases this eliminates the opportunity to car pool, help a neighbor, who might be in a pinch, by picking up their child and in time, this concept begins to divide a neighborhood." I'm not dismissing these as real concerns, rather pointing out that solving these problems for a few neighborhoods isn't going to come from subjecting the entire town to the same issues.
kelsey Aldrich November 16, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Very True Sara!!
Granby November 16, 2012 at 05:52 PM
The kids split up for grades 3 - 6 and are in school the rest of the time together currently. I hardly see this as losing community, in fact, I think it brings everyone together in the town even more if the children remain in school together throughout all of their schooling. Being together for half of elementary and split for the other half is rather silly in my opinion when they can just stay together for school. We live in a small town, this is really not the end of the world.
Steve Lynch November 16, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Please don't misunderstand me Sara, I would like the schools to stay as they are now. Swing Streets are but 1 factor raised by the town. I would be more than happy to keep the status quo and have the town / BOE find or eliminate the need for swing streets altogether. However, I do maintain that to continue to lean on the same streets every time there is a need is unfair to the residents of those areas.
granby November 17, 2012 at 08:55 PM
The rest of town would certainly not be subject to the same issues as swing streets . As a resident of a swing street our neighbors ( of same age ) are currently going to different schools . If the proposed change to our schools is passed all kids of same age will attend the same school. Maybe BOE should vote on either getting rid of this swing street issue or see which developments in town would like to become one of the swing streets and split up their community feel they have. This issue i feel should really go to a town wide vote vs BOE vote . At the end of this process all of us really do want what is best for our kids and i feel combining the schools would be a great solution to ending all the chat about which school is better . I am all for competition between schools , i just hope that all the teachers in town do know that they all are doing a great job whether they work at a "blue ribbon school " or not.
Sara Scotto November 17, 2012 at 10:32 PM
If you redead my comment you will see that I was quoting the article and it is true that the proposed change would create a situation were children close in age go to different schools - be it a swing street situation or one where kids change schools every two years. I don't think swing streets are good for anyone. A family we know quite well is in a situation where their neighbors on either side attend one school while their children attend the other. That's just silly! But I don't believe that having our children move to a new school every two years is a good answer to this problem. And I'm saddened that anyone is making this a one school vs the other issue. I've personally spoken to teachers and parents at both schools who oppose this proposal. We have great schools in Granby. If the superintendent feels changes need to be made, let's not make them at the expense of our children. I know it takes my own kids a while to learn the lay of the land in a new school. Changing schools every two years will be unduly stressful on them. The mental energy expended every time they transition would be much better used in the classroom.
granby November 18, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Whether or not everyone agrees, there has been a lot of chat in town since Kelly Lane received the Blue Ribbon Award. I think it is great that one of our schools was a recipient. Both schools in town are excellent, but as I stated, this process is all about what is best for our kids. This is certainly not about one school vs the other, this is about the education of our children. And bringing all of the children that are in the same grade together in one school is a great idea. As far as splitting kids up that are close to the same age, I can understand totally that SOME siblings will be going to different schools but kids DO adapt easily to change. They attend Kearns for 3 years and I know that my child was looking forward to changing schools and going to a new building. Having kids together for 3 years in this small town, then splitting them up into 2 schools after friendships have been made, is more stressful on our kids than the location of the school itself. As far as lay of the land, kids love to explore and they are so smart now, I'm sure a few days is all it would take. After all, most time is spent in the classroom anyway. In the end, I hope that everyone can come together and make the right decision for our kids, whether it be get rid of swing streets or combine the schools.
Steve Lynch November 18, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I understand your point and agree. My boys are 1 grade apart and I would prefer they spent as much time together, in school, as possible. Sadly, I have discussed the swing street situation, for over a year now, with the superintendent, the BOE, and the person in charge of determining the bus routes - all to no avail. I was told, flat out, that if I had a better way to solve the problem, I should tell them. I hope enough people feel that changing the schools is not the answer and again, if things stay as is, I hope the superintendent and BOE find a way to solve this concern. My hope was to inform those unaware of what swing streets are and how they are used. I am not advocating changing the schools and I am not suggesting 1 school is better than another. I am glad we both feel strongly about keeping the kids and schools together 3 thru 6 - hopefully there are enough of others that feel the same.
Granby November 18, 2012 at 03:16 AM
I agree with you. Either way, [hopefully] the change will happen and it will be fine. There's always a bit of panic and unnecessary drama when change happens.
Kelly parent November 20, 2012 at 05:26 PM
I am a parent of a awing street directly effected by it. I am so tired of hearing this as one of the number one reasons we need to change. Guess what our neighbors are still our friends, we can carpool if needed it is the same bus and the schools are not that far away. Every town has swing streets, it is how the balance the growing numbers of student in any given year. Lets just be honest about why people want this change so badly. i find it so interesting the wells, kelly divide in this, so what is that saying? if you do not feel a part of a family or connected to the staff at your school you need to help create change. why are these two schools so different? what can be done to make them more comparable. one reason kelly lane parents don't want the change is due to the fact so many wells parents do, is their no loyalty to your child's school? Why do you want out so badly? This concerns me. To say all children adapt easily is an understatement. Every child is different. Some children have much higher anxiety to changes and may have underlying issues that contribute to them. There are documented articles sating too many transitions can lead to learning disadvantages. We would be the only school district in the state with five transitions from k-12, really is this better for our children? I have a fifth grader who wants to stay just one more year and finish her year rather than being up routed to a new school for one year, with or without her friends.
Steve Lynch November 20, 2012 at 05:57 PM
According to my recollection, while this was but one of the reason's on Addley's list, it was not # 1. Every town does not have swing streets as I have researched this issue to make sure I was not speaking out of turn. My article was meant to attempt to make people aware of swing streets as many town residents are / were not aware of this concept. If you had taken the time to read the article and subsequent comments, you would realize that I am in favor of keeping the schools they way they are now. I also made this same comment at the PTO meeting. My son attends Wells and I am invested in my son and, thereby, I am invested in Wells Road School. I cannot and will not speak on behalf of any Wells Road parents. I know many parents of Wells students who are involved and hold the school in high regard. However, right or wrong, there is a perception that, due to the Blue Ribbon awarded to Kelly Lane, the school is better. This is a perception that our BOE has allowed to fester rather than trying to diffuse this issue. Without BOE comment on this issue, at some point, perception becomes reality and people develop a strong belief that is's true regardless if it is not. I have not asked for the schools to be changed...I have simply asked that the BOE and superintendent revisit the issue and look toward elimination this outdated concept. I ultimately hope what's done is best for the children and teachers. I don't think cutting staff and changing schools is the answer.


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