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Board 'struggling with' East Ridge transfer issue

East Ridge High School.

The District 833 School Board is in a tight spot.

The application for students to transfer to East Ridge High School from Park and Woodbury high school attendance boundaries doesn't state that students' siblings also would go to East Ridge.

The district's policy to allow siblings to follow their older brothers and sisters applies only to kindergarten and the Gateway program in elementary school.

When students applied to be transferred to East Ridge, they were approved on a case by case process.

If the board allows siblings to follow, East Ridge High School, which is recommended to be closed to intra-district transfers to avoid overcrowding, would be over capacity in the 2013-14 school year.

Parents of students who have transferred to East Ridge asked the School Board last month to allow siblings to follow their students to the school so their children wouldn't be split up.

The discussion will return at a Dec. 15 board meeting because registration closes in January for secondary schools.

"There's not a good solution" for parents who think they were misled, said board member Ron Kath.

Kath said the district has also heard from parents who knew that siblings would not automatically be transferred to East Ridge and didn't apply for student transfers because of it.

If the board allows siblings to attend East Ridge, those parents would have been denied a more favorable transfer situation for their children.

"We're all struggling with it," board Chairwoman Leslee Boyd said.

There will be an overcrowding issue in 2013, board member Tracy Brunnette said. The board can try to be accommodating but there will be growth in that area, she said.

The number of students the district is predicting each year doesn't include students returning to their attendance areas after being in private schools, said Keith Ryskoski, assistant superintendent for secondary education, because that number is unknown.

If the board allows students to follow their older brothers and sisters, there will be some families who will be disappointed because they didn't get the same opportunity for their children, said board member Jim Gelbmann.

Still, Gelbmann urged the board to grant the sibling request.

"We can't split up families," he said.

The high school was built so 24 more classrooms could be added, Kath said, but that is not expected for 10 years.

Superintendent Mark Porter said the administration is sticking to the recommendation that no sibling preference be allowed.

The district can't allow overcrowding in one high school while there is room in the other two schools, he said.

Students who want to enroll in four biomedical classes, only offered at East Ridge, will be allowed to take those classes. The administration is expected to bring the board a plan to make that choice possible.

Students are also allowed to transfer to Park to enter the International Baccalaureate program. After application to the Minnesota State High School League, athletes will not have to give up a year of eligibility as other students do if they transfer to another high school.

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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