MADISON, NJ - Superintendent of Madison Schools Richard Noonan continued an ongoing discussion about balancing out student ratios among the three elementary schools in Madison, at Tuesday night's meeting of the Madison Board of Education.

The Board approved a plan that in essence would require students to attend the elementary school within the identifiable zone in which they live come September 2010. The three elementary schools in Madison are Central Avenue School, Kings Road School and Torey J Sabatini School. The goal in the redistricting process is to create greater space flexibility at Central and move toward more balanced enrollment across the three schools over a period of time, according to Noonan.

Some of the details discussed at Tuesday night's meeting included that current students that are enrolled at Central could remain at the school or transfer to a school within their identifiable zone come September. Also if an older sibling is currently enrolled at Central or any of the other two elementary schools their younger sibling has the right to attend that school as well, according to Noonan.

The proposed plan would not affect Madison's school budget. "We're all paying close attention to the budget now a days...we're essentially projecting that this is budget neutral," Noonan said. This is the case because class sizes or additional programs will not be changed as a result of the redistricting plans.

The Superintendent continued, saying that there were discussions with Madison Police about bussing and crossing guards. It was determined that no additional crossing guards were needed and a bus route can be implemented from Madison Avenue to Torey J Sabatini; no new buses will be needed. "This is definitely a good thing in regard to the budget," Noonan said.

As to why not have students transfer to their identifiable zone schools for the remainder of the current school year, Noonan responded, "We think the well-being of the students should come first and foremost. If a family believes that a change in schools right now is disruptive to their sons or daughters development we think that should be given more preeminence in all of this," Noonan responded. The other factor, as Noonan explained, is that Central is not experiencing a "space crisis" and additional sections can be accommodated with minimal disruption to the school, he said.

After the board approved the proposal Noonan explained the steps moving forward in the redistricting process. Both Torey J Sabatini and Kings Road schools will have open houses and orientations over the summer for students who will be attending, as well as their parents. The purpose of these visits will be to tour the schools and to have an understanding of the programs that are offered. Madison will then mail letters to families within the identifiable zones asking for parent indication by June 1 if they plan to transfer their children come September, Noonan said.

In other news, the district has sent out newsletters about the current 2010-2011 school budget to Madison residents. The budget will be voted upon by the public on April 20th and all residents are urged to vote. "We're asking for residents of Madison to get the picture and the facts straight...a failed budget...hurts no one more directly and deeply than our students," Noonan said in response to a letter in which Governor Christie said districts do not have the right to enact wage freezes on their staff members to save money within their budgets. Noonan also reminded the public that Governor Christie cut $1.6M in state aid from Madison's budget.