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District 834 boundary decision coming next month

Even though a vote is coming a month late, District 834 is still moving forward with redrawing its boundaries.

The boundary proposal had initially been scheduled to be discussed at the April 14 District 834 School Board meeting, but that decision was delayed due to a resolution presented to Stillwater Area Schools requesting a stay of all actions related to the district's Building Opportunities to Learn and Discover (BOLD) proposal, which includes redrawing boundaries and the closure of three elementary schools.

The request comes from 834 Voice, an organization that has filed a lawsuit against district leaders regarding the recent decision to reduce under-utilized space by closing three elementary schools — Withrow, Marine and Oak Park elementary schools.

The resolution presented by 834 Voice requests the district stay action on the closing of schools, active marketing or sale of buildings, and implementation of boundary changes pending a decision by the Court of Appeals.

The lawsuit alleges that district leaders undermined required public hearings about the school closures by limiting testimony of opponents of the plan and that school officials violated the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act by promising during a 2015 capital levy campaign to improve the schools it now plans to close.

It is anticipated that the appeals court briefing will be completed in early August, and district counsel told board members it would be sometime between November 2016 and January 2017 before a decision on the case is made.

During a meeting last week, School Board approved the resolution but also amended the resolution to allow the district to move forward with its boundary change plan for the 2017-18 school year.

However, there is an understanding that the plan could change depending on the outcome of the appeals court decision.

The stay also has no impact on projects related to the district's $97.5 million bond, such as grade configuration changes and construction.

Boundaries

District 834 is tasked with redrawing its attendance boundaries in order to fill its new school in Woodbury, Brookview Elementary.

The new boundaries would go into effect for the 2017-18 school year.

The proposals were developed by a 24-person committee, which included parents, staff and administration.

The attendance boundary proposals will affect all of the district's elementary schools.

In regard to Brookview Elementary, all four options propose moving the majority of students from Valley Crossing Community School to the new school.

A small number of Valley Crossing students will also move to Lake Elmo Elementary.

Some students who attend Lake Elmo and Afton-Lakeland Elementary will also move to the new school.

Valley Crossing, which previously served districts 834, 833 and 622, is being purchased by District 833.

Outside of the Woodbury area, all four proposals would redraw boundaries for Anderson, Lily Lake, Rutherford, Afton-Lakeland,Lake Elmo and Stonebridge elementary schools in order to accommodate the students coming from Withrow, Marine and Oak Park Elementary schools.

The boundary proposals also address what will be the new middle school feeder systems.

In all four proposals students from Afton-Lakeland, Anderson, Lake Elmo and the new elementary school will attend Oak-Land Junior High.

Students at Rutherford, Lily Lake and Stonebridge elementary schools would attend Stillwater Middle School.

District 834 School Board is scheduled to vote on the boundary change proposals at its May 12 meeting.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

(651) 702-0976
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