District prepares for 4th elementary school

Board reviews proposed changes to student, teacher distribution

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The Moffat County School District is planning for its next big change.

District administrators and staff are drafting ways to redistribute students and staff for the 2009-10 school year after the current Craig Intermediate School is transformed into the district's fourth elementary school.

Moffat County School Board members reviewed these plans at their Thursday workshop, which took place before their regular monthly meeting.

"They're all a work in progress," Superintendent Pete Bergmann said.

Staff redistribution

Starting next year, CIS, which currently houses fifth- and sixth-graders, will be converted into a fourth elementary school for preschool-through fifth-graders. A $29.5 million bond issue voters passed in November 2007 will fund the project and other upgrades across the district.

The change means some teachers currently at the building will have to either change grade levels or schools.

The district's Problem Solving Committee, which includes district administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals, drafted criteria guiding teacher redistribution. Balancing teachers' experience in various content areas, creating teams of teachers and taking into account educator's preferences are among the considerations district administrators will look at when redistributing teachers.

School personnel already already had their say in the process.

A preference survey collected Nov. 7 allowed CIS staff to indicate whether they wished to remain in their current school or grade level.

"I really think teachers deserve credit because they really jumped out and said, 'I know you've got to staff another school,'" said Joel Sheridan, former assistant superintendent who has been hired by the district on a part-time basis to assist with bond issue projects.

He added that many teachers indicated they were willing to move.

At the latest, district administrators hope to finalize staff redistribution by spring, Sheridan said.

However, the process could move quicker than anticipated.

"If it really gels out in the next couple of weeks, I don't know why we wouldn't go ahead and make those moves, and (so) everybody knows where they're going," Sheridan said.

In that case, a personnel report reflecting teacher redistribution could come to the School Board for approval next month, Bergmann said.

Balancing the load

Another phase of the transition includes redrawing elementary school attendance boundaries to include a fourth elementary school.

Attendance boundaries generally place elementary students in schools closest to where they are living with a parent or guardian.

District officials plan to increase these area boundaries from three to four, or one for each elementary school. At the same time, officials are planning how many sections of each grade to allot to the four schools.

A draft of next year's student distribution shows existing East, Ridgeview and Sunset elementary schools hosting two tracks of each grade, kindergarten through fifth.

Current CIS would hold three tracks of each grade.

However, redistributing the district's elementary school students may not be as easy as it looks on paper. The task takes place at a time when elementary school enrollment across the district is growing beyond what schools traditionally plan for, elementary school principals said.

But that's not to say schools don't have room to accommodate extra students.

East Elementary School, for example, is using its computer lab room as an extra classroom this year. Its computer lab now is a mobile one.

According to current school designs, elementary schools have between one and four such spaces that could be converted into classrooms, if necessary.

"We don't want to do that, but we have that flexibility," Bergmann said.

For other actions from Thursday's school board meeting, see this week's Saturday Morning Press.

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