District to consider parental input on changes

Meetings gather feedback on proposed attendance area boundaries

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For tips to helping children adjust to changing to a new school next year, visit the Moffat County School District's Web site at www.moffatsd.org.>

The Moffat County School District is trying to strike a balance between parent requests for continuity and establishing ideal class sizes at existing and new elementary schools.

It hasn't been an easy task.

District administrators and Moffat County School Board members met with about 15 parents and school staff members Tuesday night at Ridgeview Elementary School.

The meeting was one of three hosted at area elementary schools this week to explain and receive feedback on proposed attendance area changes for the 2009-10 school year.

Parental suggestions still can change the attendance areas.

However, "I don't believe an idea that comes up will significantly change the boundaries," Superintendent Pete Bergmann said.

Attendance areas dictate where students normally attend school based on where they live with a parent or legal guardian.

The existing Craig Intermediate School will be converted into a fourth elementary school this summer, relocating 308 students from the schools they attend now.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the changes Feb. 26.

District administrators were willing to consider most parental suggestions Tuesday.

Parents can request their children attend schools outside their attendance areas.

Bergmann said he plans to propose a system in which these requests will be randomly approved. The school board is scheduled to vote on this recommendation Jan. 29.

However, whether students will be considered for transfer still will depend on whether the receiving school has room for them. And, according to enrollment projections, some classes at all four schools will be at maximum capacity this fall.

The district will consider giving priority to incoming fifth-graders who want to stay at their school instead of relocating.

Allowing parents to enter the lottery for multiple schools could be another option the district would take into account.

Other requests, though, are out of the question.

The district won't allow a student to stay at his or her current school solely because his or her childcare provider works close by.

To do so would "totally imbalance" the district's attempt to keep target class sizes intact at all schools, Bergmann said.

For the same reason, multiple siblings can't be included on one lottery entry.

In some cases, parents who request a school change may not know if their child will be granted their school of choice request until the day before school.

Bergmann reiterated for parents whose students could be relocated this fall, the only way to know where their children will attend school next year is to embrace the boundary changes.

"There's really no other way to do it," he said. "I wish there was."

Questions on the school of choice policy also dominated at a similar meeting that took place Monday night at East Elementary, Bergmann said.

The audience of about 30 people displayed a range of responses to the proposed changes.

"Some of them were delighted," Bergmann said.

With others, however, "You could sense some anxiety with changing of schools, which is to be expected," he added.

Terrianne Wheeler was one of several parents who attended Tuesday's meeting.

She has a second- and a fourth-grade student at Ridgeview Elementary, but neither of them will be affected by the boundary change next year.

She came to the meeting because she was curious about district administrators' "logic behind this map and the proposed changes," she said, referring to a map of next year's proposed attendance areas.

She learned that proposed changes for bus routes next year will factor in whether students can safely walk to school.

"I had never considered walking routes and major highways to cross," Wheeler said, "and the complete lack of sidewalks in this town."

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