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Opinion

Schools and the Princeton Plan

Credit: AP

What works in one set of school districts will generally work in other, similar ones. Yet it's common for parents to say a change that's gone fine elsewhere is simply unworkable for their kids, their schools and their district.

So it is with the Princeton Plan, a method of grouping elementary school students by grade rather than neighborhood. Typically, several traditional elementary schools that run from kindergarten to fourth, fifth or sixth grade are reorganized so that each houses only a couple of grades, but from the whole area the group of schools covers. The plan can save money, even out class sizes and resources, and increase the comfort level of children being educated and riding buses with kids their own age. As added bonuses, students bond with the kids they will attend middle school with, and diversity is increased in early grades.

Many Long Island districts went to the Princeton Plan years ago and it works well. But in the ones that are just now seriously considering it as a way to deal with shrinking budgets -- North Bellmore, Bayport-Blue Point and Franklin Square -- some parents claim it will do serious harm. That's highly unlikely.

The Princeton Plan would likely work as well in districts that adopt it now as the ones that did 20 years ago. Parents should listen with an open mind to the advantages and potential savings, understanding that if they want to control the ever-upward trajectory of school taxes, other things must change as well. hN

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