Nothing perfect in attempts to relocate students

Superintendent, school board trying to come up with best solution

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Timeline

• Feb. 26 School Board establishes new attendance area boundaries

• March 1 Open enrollment begins - applications accepted through May 15

• May 15 Open enrollment window closes

• May 18 Public lottery takes place for each school, at every grade level for every child, and waiting list for future admittance to school of choice established

• Aug. 11 and 13 Elementary registration for 2009-10

• Aug. 24 Determine available space at each school and grade level and begin notification of students accepted into school of choice

• Sept. 15 Final placements for school of choice for 2009-10 school year

In Pete Bergmann's perfect world, each and every parent would be happy with the way he has realigned the attendance area boundaries for the 2009-10 school year. But, the Moffat County School District superintendent knows there's no such thing as a perfect world.

"I understand that not every parent can be completely happy," Bergmann said. "But we basically have no choice in the matter, and we are trying to make it as smooth as possible to allow school choice."

For the 2009-10 school year, the District will move all sixth-graders into Craig Middle School, add an additional elementary school in the former fifth- and sixth-grade building, and send fifth-graders to the four elementary schools.

Bergmann predicts about 300 students will be affected with the change.

One of the first steps for Bergmann and the School Accountability Committee was to establish new attendance area boundaries. The boundaries were set relating to residencies.

After those were established, administrators and Moffat County School Board members met with parents from each elementary school to discuss the new boundaries.

Bergmann, who presented his plan at Thursday's board meeting, will send a letter to all families who have children getting displaced from their previous school.

If parents are OK with where their child will attend next year, they don't need to take any action.

But if they would like to send their child to a school outside of their area, Bergmann has established a process for school choice to be an option.

Parents can enter their child in a lottery for their school of choice. At Thursday's board meeting, it was decided that a child will be allowed into just one school lottery. Additionally, each child in a family must be entered separately.

On May 18, a lottery will take place to decide the order of priority for each child. The child whose number is drawn first will be first into the school they prefer if there are available spots.

That's a big "if."

The students will be considered for the school of choice only if grade level enrollments are below established class size numbers. Those numbers are 20 students for kindergarten through second grade and 23 students in third through fifth grade.

Currently, the only exception is that children of school staff who live out of the attendance boundaries will be admitted at the school where the parent teaches. This only applies to the first year.

The board discussed several exceptions, but it was decided that the current proposed plan set forth by Bergmann would remain until the details of the exceptions could be looked at in more detail.

"I think we should consider exceptions if it allows for fewer transitions for students," board member Sandie Johns said.

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