Mandan News

Wilfred Volesky: Change in elementary attendance areas

Over the last two years our student kindergarten numbers have been larger than our numbers in prior years. One of the reasons for this increase in kindergarten students is the Bismarck’s School District’s decision to close open enrollment into their district. Hopefully another reason is an increase in families moving into the Mandan School District. Regardless of the reasons for this increase, if we look at the births in Morton County over the last five years it appears that we will continue to see an increase in our kindergarten enrollment.

The increase in kindergarten students presents us with classroom space issues.  Normally we have had eleven classrooms in each elementary grade. The last two years, due to the large kindergarten numbers, we needed to have 12 classrooms for kindergarten students. As these students moved to first grade this year we should have had 12 classrooms for them. However, due to a lack of classroom space throughout the district we could only have 11 classrooms for first grade students. This resulted in having up to 25 students in some first grade classrooms which we believe is too large. Without additional classroom space our class size will continue to be too large at the early elementary grades making it difficult to accommodate all of the individual student needs. These large numbers will require us to move students from one elementary school to another to equalize the numbers throughout the district. This creates a host of problems with the one of the biggest problems being transportation of these students.

During this school year the school board created an attendance area committee to study this problem. This committee, composed of a board member, elementary principals, teachers, parents and the Superintendent, worked diligently throughout most of this year to resolve the problem. At the school board meeting on April 6 the committee’s plan was presented to the school board and the school board approved the plan to go into effect for the next school year. I would like to provide you with the details of this plan.

The plan changes the attendance areas for each elementary school in the district. The new attendance area for each elementary school is smaller and allows for bigger at-large areas. The new attendance plan will be phased in as follows: For the 2010-11 school year, K-1 students and students new to the district will be assigned to schools according to newly established attendance areas and an at-large attendance matrix. Students in 2-5, not new to the district, will be assigned to schools using the current system. They will not be affected by the new attendance areas or matrix.

Students will be divided into three different subgroups based on when they registered: 1) Those that registered prior to March 31; 2) Those that register between April 1, and July 31; and 3) those students that register Aug. 1 and after. In each subgroup students with special needs, that may only be educated at one school, will be given first priority. The second priority will be those students that live in the attendance area. The third priority will be the at-large areas for which the matrix has been created. A student earns points in the matrix in the following manner: one point for each year in the building (K-5); one point for each sibling in the building; one point for the geographic boundary match (N/S of Main Street) which means that a student who lives North of Main Street and is requesting a school North of Main will receive one point.  If they request a school South of Main Street they do not receive any points; and one point if a parent is a PTO officer-Committee Chair. The reason for the last point is so that we do not devastate the PTO’s at each school by moving parents who are officers from one school to another. When a student’s points are calculated they will be compared against all other students in the subgroup that want to attend the same school. When a particular grade at an elementary school is filled to capacity students will need to be moved to another elementary school that has room available at that grade level.

As you probably guessed, those students that registered prior to March 31 are in the best position to be able to attend the elementary school that they chose as their first choice. These students will also be notified of which school they will be attending prior to the end of this school term. Those students that registered between April 1 and July 31 will be notified prior to Aug. 10, of the elementary school to which they will be assigned. Those students that register between Aug. 1 and the start of the school year will be notified of building assignments after the children in subgroup 1 and 2 are notified or immediately if that notification has been completed. If a particular grade level at an elementary school has space for only one additional student before being filled to capacity and there are three students that have equal points that have requested to attend this school, these students will be rank-ordered by proximity to the building.

As was discussed earlier, for the 2010-11 school year we believe that most of the students in grades two through five will not have a problem getting into the school they have been attending this school year. However, students in kindergarten and first grade and new students to the district, due to the large numbers in K and first, may not get their first elementary school choice.  Beginning with the 2011-12 school year all K-5 students living in an elementary attendance area will be assigned to that elementary school. All at-large students will be assigned to an elementary school based on the number of points they accumulate on the matrix.

For the 2010-11 school year only, we have set up transition accommodations to assist families. If a family has a K or first grade student and a second-fifth grade student who are assigned to different schools because of attendance area changes, they will have 3 options available.

Option 1-K or first grade student may attempt to go outside the assigned attendance area to attend school with a second-fifth grade sibling by using the “At Large” point matrix.

Option 2-K or 1st grade student may stay in new assigned attendance area and the second-fifth grade sibling may elect to use the new matrix prior to the 2011-12 school year and attend the school in the new attendance area.

Option 3-Siblings may attend different schools.

The manner in which registration occurs will also change for families. Families can continue to register elementary students at an elementary school until Friday, June 4. Beginning June 7, any families registering K-5 students will need to stop at the Central Administration Building at 309 Collins Avenue to register their student(s).

When the committee created this plan they recognized that there would be some difficulties for families that may need to have their children attend a different school. Regardless of the plan that we considered, there would be some families that would be required to move during the first few years of the plan. We tried to minimize the difficulty through the use of the transition plan discussed above. As we implement the plan we ask for your cooperation and understanding.

This new attendance plan, the matrix and the new attendance area map will be on the school district’s website beginning May 10. Please review the plan and let us know if you have any questions.

Elementary school assignment areas

Custer Elementary:

Students living south of Sixth Street N.E.-N.W. and north of Main Street, including the 500 block of Sixth Avenue N.E. and Crying Hill Drive and east of Third Avenue N.W. to the Missouri River. Also those students located north of I-94 to the end of River Drive and east of the Railroad Tracks to west of the Missouri River.

Fort Lincoln Elementary:

Students living south of the Heart River and north of 43rd Street and east of the 600 block of 19th Street S.E. to west of the Railroad Tracks. (The south border shall extend from 43rd Street west until it intersects with the east border line of the 600 block of 19th Street S.E. The east border shall extend north-south from the 600 block of 19th Street S.E. until it intersects with the Heart River on the north and with the border line of 43rd Street on the south.) Also those students located south of Third Street S.E. to north of the Heart River and east of Sixth Avenue S.E. to west of the Railroad Tracks.

Lewis & Clark Elementary:

Students living south of 37th Street N.W. to I-94 and east of 30th Avenue N.W. to west of the Missouri River. (The northern border line will extend from 37th Street N.W. straight east to the Missouri River.) Also those students located south of I-94 between Exit 152 and 153 to north of Sixth St. N.W.-N.E.

Mary Stark Elementary:

Students located south of Main Street to north of the Heart River and east of the Heart River to Sixth Avenue S.E. Also those students located south of Main Street to north of Third Street S.E. and east of Sixth Avenue S.E. to the Railroad Tracks.

Roosevelt Elementary:

Students living south of Division Street N.W. to Main Street and east of the City Limits to west of Sunset Drive N.W. and Sixth Avenue N.W. Also those located south of Sixth Avenue N.E. and N.W. to north of Main Street and east of 6th Avenue SE to west of Collins Avenue.

All students located in areas not defined above will be considered At Large and will be assigned per the matrix.