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UPDATED: District 834 School Board approves new boundaries

The District 834 School Board finally reached a decision on the new elementary school attendance boundaries at its Feb. 10 meeting.

Of the five options presented, the School Board approved the red option at last Thursday's meeting as the new boundaries for the Stillwater Area School District.

District 834 began work on revising its attendance boundaries in October as part of its Vision 2014 since the district currently has two elementary schools -- Lake Elmo Elementary and Rutherford Elementary -- that are overcrowded.

Lake Elmo Elementary currently has 778 students enrolled, which is at 104 percent capacity, and Rutherford Elementary has 766 students, which is at 103 percent capacity.

The red option will have an impact on 312 elementary students and 61 junior high students.

The boundary changes will move students from Stonebridge Elementary to Withrow Elementary; from Rutherford Elementary to Stonebridge Elementary; from Andersen Elementary to Oak Park Elementary; from Lake Elmo Elementary to Andersen Elementary; from Lake Elmo Elementary to Valley Crossing Community School; from Lake Elmo Elementary to Afton-Lakeland Elementary.

Director of Operations Denny Bloom said the School Board leaned toward the red option over the other four options because it moved the fewest students, did a better job of utilization and it did a good job keeping neighborhoods together.

"There were a couple other options that had some consideration," he said. "But most School Board members were thinking red."

Bloom said there was not clear consensus of among parents as to which option they favored.

"It was across the board what they were in favor of," he said. "The ones that are getting moved are obviously not in favor of having to move."

In addition to approving the boundaries, the School Board also agreed to allow fourth- and fifth-grade students to remain at their current school for the remainder of the their elementary careers.

"We felt that this was a very open process," Bloom said, "even though the district had to make a tough choice."

Making a smooth transition

Now that the School Board has made a decision on the attendance boundaries, it's time to make the transition as smooth as possible, Bloom said.

The School Board approved the transition plan during the Feb. 10 meeting. The plan outlines all of the steps the district must to take to help facilitate the transition.

The transition plan includes information packets being sent home, communication by principals, school tours and kindergarten orientations.

Additionally, the district is currently accepting alternate enrollment/open enrollment requests. This allows families to request to remain at their current schools. However, requests will only be granted if certain requirements are met and whether or not there is space available at the school.

"We've got a lot going on right now," Bloom said. "We want to make this as smooth a transition as possible.

"Despite having to move schools, we want it to be a good process."

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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.

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