Sunset classrooms overcrowded

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Approximately 20 first graders at Sunset Elementary School might be sitting in a second grade classroom at Ridgeview Elementary School or East Elementary School next year because of classroom overcrowding.

This year Sunset Elementary School had more than 80 first-grade students separated into four different classrooms, while Ridgeview Elementary and East Elementary schools had two classes of first graders.

Next year school officials say they want to spread the students out evenly among the three schools by requiring some students who live outside of the Sunset school district to return to their neighborhood schools.

"We sent out letters Monday saying this is what we're looking at," said Sunset Elementary School Principal Jim Rugh. "Parents need to apply again to send their child to Sunset Elementary and they can go here on a first-come, first-serve basis."

The Moffat County School District has a school-of-choice policy, which encourages parents to send their students to neighborhood schools, but allows parents to send their children to one of the other two schools if they so choose.

But the policy states that requests to transfer students to other schools can be considered if space is available at the school.

The policy reads:

"Flexibility shall be allowed in school attendance area boundaries to allow students to attend any school or program of his/her choice on a space available, first-come, first-served bases."

The policy also states:

"Transfer students attending a school outside their designated attendance areas as determined by legal residence of parents shall be granted admission on a year-to-year basis.

In the event the population of the attendance area increases to fill the space available with attendance area residents, transfer students may be asked to enroll in another school."

Superintendent Pete Bergmann said the district tries to cater to parents' requests as much as possible unless too much of an enrollment inequity develops between the three schools.

"This will allow us to have three classrooms in each grade at the different schools," Bergmann said. "We always try to balance the needs of the students with the requests of the family."

Bergmann said this situation arises every couple of years.

"We try to let parents send children to the school of their choice unless we don't feel it's best for the organization of the school," he said. "We realize many parents choose to send their children to Sunset Elementary due to the availability of child care in that area."

The breakdown of enrollment at the three elementary schools is:

Ridgeview 237

East 254

Sunset 338

Rugh said the schools are only asking parents of students who will be second graders next fall to apply and the changes will not apply to any other grade levels.

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