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Public gets chance to discuss new school, remodeling

Special to the Bulletin

School District 833 officials are planning community meetings to discuss the issues surrounding the construction of a new high school and additions to existing ones, and there are plenty of issues to discuss.

Attendance boundaries, start and end times, and what will happen to seniors in the first year of the transition are still to be decided.

The new high school, planned to open in 2009 at Bailey Road and Pioneer Drive in Woodbury, might open without seniors, according to Superintendent Tom Nelson, who presented a program to the Cottage Grove Lions Club on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at The Point Restaurant.

Though it has yet to be decided, district officials might give seniors graduating in 2010 the choice of staying at either Park or Woodbury high school.

When the new school opens, attendance boundaries will have to change. A citizen committee is being formed to discuss new district-wide attendance boundaries, Nelson said. A recommendation will be given to the school board this fall.

One thing that's certain is that the feeder system that now sends Oltman and Cottage Grove junior high students to Park High School in Cottage Grove and Woodbury and Lake junior high schools to Woodbury High School will change completely.

The new school's student body is expected to include students from Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Newport, Woodbury and Grey Cloud Island Township.

A student living near the new high school might be sent to Park or Woodbury high school, he said. The district is mulling a policy that would not allow inter-district transfers for two years after attendance boundaries are approved. District officials are talking to other districts that have recently built new high schools about the transfer issue.

In describing the layout of the school, Nelson said the stadium will be situated so home-team spectators will face east.

"We'll make the visitors look in to the sun," Nelson said. "We call it 'the home team advantage.'"

Another new high school issue, yet to be decided, is the start and end times of the school day. These times could vary among the three high schools.

Nelson told Lions club members that plans to build the new high school and change grade configurations are driven by growth. Elementary schools will go to housing kindergarten through fifth grade, junior high schools will house grades six, seven and eight, and high schools will hold grades nine through 12.

District 833 is now the sixth largest school district in the state. Of more than 300 districts statewide, only 10 to 15 are growing, Nelson said.

"This area has aggressive plans for growth," he said. "Many districts are making budget cuts. We are not one of them."

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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