District attendance areas nearly complete

Administrators, board to speak to parents

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For updates on the Moffat County School District's elementary attendance area changes, visit www.moffatsd.org and click on the "district news and communication" link.

— Moffat County School District administrators are in the final stages of reworking elementary school attendance area boundaries to accommodate a fourth elementary school.

From parental feedback he's gathered so far, Superintendent Pete Bergmann isn't expecting the change to be easy.

"There's no way to : get through this without angst and transition," he told Moffat County School Board members at their regular meeting Thursday night.

Still, district officials are determined to move ahead with redrawing attendance area boundaries and, in some cases, relocating elementary students to other schools next year.

When Bergmann recently described boundary changes to parents on school accountability committees, the plan was met with some resistance.

"It's mainly emotional," he said. "I think kids will do better than the parents will" with the change, but "the reality is we have to do this for 300 kids."

Attendance area boundaries, which dictate where students normally attend school, are being changed to include a fourth elementary school in the current Craig Intermediate School building.

The structure, which now houses fifth- and sixth-graders, will be renovated this summer for preschool through fifth-grade students.

Bergmann showed board members a tentative draft of new attendance areas Thursday. Administrators still are making adjustments, but Bergmann expects to have a finalized draft ready early next month.

Most recent district records show 308 students, mostly from East and Sunset elementary schools, will relocate to the new elementary school next year.

Parents can request their child attend a school outside of their attendance area. But instead of offering the school-of-choice option on a first-come, first-serve basis, as has been done in the past, district officials may draw school change applications randomly in a lottery.

"It's the only fair way to do it," Bergmann said.

Bergmann and Assistant Superintendent Christine Villard will attend upcoming Parent Accountability Meetings to explain the boundary change rationale and gather feedback on the process. Bergmann urged board members to attend the meetings.

He warned board members that facing parents' questions and concerns may not be easy.

But board members suggested emphasizing positive aspects of the boundary change.

Sending fifth- and sixth-graders to district elementary schools and a new middle school, respectively, will reduce transitions.

"That's got to be a huge positive (factor) for parents," Board Secretary Trish Snyder said.

Board Member Jo Ann Baxter pointed to teachers' responses to the change as a possible guide for parents.

A total of 25 teachers will change grades or schools next year to staff the new elementary school.

"The staff has accepted this change in a very professional way," Baxter said.

The PAC meetings will be rescheduled so no two meetings fall on the same night. New meeting times and dates have not been determined.

The district also plans to release more information after boundaries are solidified next month.

"Let's keep the public informed," Bergmann said. "Even if they don't like it, they'll understand it."

For updates on attendance area changes, visit the school district's Web site at www.moffatsd.org and click on the "district news and communication" link.

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