Committee evaluates more variations

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The Internal Attendance Boundary Committee reviewed two more variations to Option D and recommended that each one continue to be considered at their 10th meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at the Kromrey cafetorium.

In Option D2, the Pope Farm attendance area would include all of Blackhawk (Neighborhoods 24-25) and Elderberry (62-65). The option attempts to improve enrollment balance between Sunset Ridge and Park. Consultant Mark Roffers noted that some students who would go to Pope Farm currently attend Sunset Ridge, thereby requiring some “backfilling” at Sunset Ridge. Also, Park is projected to be over capacity.

Option D2 also has Neighborhoods 10, 11 and 16E going to Sauk Trail. Roffers noted it will have been a decade since 16E’s last boundary shift. The Elm Lawn attendance area would stay the same as today except for 16E. Elm Lawn would keep 16W in D2, which would help enrollment balance, Roffers said.

No school is projected to be over capacity in 2025 in Option D2. In the option, Park is projected to be 44 students over capacity in 2030, the least of the options to date. As the committee has heard previously, the school site is large enough to add space and increase capacity when needed. Pope Farm is projected to be 25 students over capacity around 2030 but will be a growth school during the 2020s.

In Option D2, Sauk Trail is projected to have the highest percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch at an estimated 44 percent. Nineteen percent of elementary students would change schools in Option D2, while 16 of 76 neighborhoods would change with eight going to Pope Farm and five going from Park to Sunset Ridge. About 84% of 2025 students would attend their closest school. Like in Option D1, which the committee reviewed in August, the option would require an estimated three additional buses.

In Option D3, Pope Farm attendance area would also include all of Blackhawk and Elderberry, but Brassington Plat in Neighborhood 65N would stay at West Middleton. Neighborhoods 8, 10 and 11 would shift to Sauk Trail, while Neighborhood 16W would move to Northside, and 16E would remain at Elm Lawn in D3. A small part of Neighborhood 37, which includes Don's Mobile Manor, would shift from Sunset Ridge to Northside.

In Option D3, no schools are projected to be over capacity in 2025. Two schools, Park and Pope Farm, are projected to be over capacity around 2030. Elm Lawn also gets closer to its capacity. Sauk Trail’s free and reduced lunch population would drop to an estimated 39%. Eighteen percent of elementary students would change schools, while 15 of 78 neighborhoods change. About 83% of 2025 students would attend their closest school.

Members suggested more than 10 potential variations to the two new options after spending 40 minutes evaluating and discussing. You can learn more about the suggested variations by checking out the summary from Wednesday's meeting, along with summaries from the previous nine meetings, on the Internal Attendance Boundary Committee webpage.

Earlier in the meeting, Roffers reviewed members suggested changes to Option D1 based on the last meeting. He also noted that members' seven suggestions to improve Option A1 would tend to turn it into Option D1.

The committee also learned the impact of Option A1 and Option D1 on District transportation. The Transportation Department noted there are 30 elementary bus routes for the 2019-20 school year and each one costs about $46,000 annually. Option A1 would require five more elementary bus routes in 2025 with some of this due to sending Neighborhoods 54-58 to Sunset Ridge in that option. Option D1 would require three more bus routes in 2025. 

The committee has reviewed and evaluated five options and four variations to date. They voted to eliminate Options C and E from consideration earlier in the summer. Options still being considered are A, A1, B, D, D1, D2 and D3. Please visit the Internal Attendance Boundary Committee webpage to see attendance maps for each option.

One member asked if the committee could revisit Option B. Other members noted that option had been vetted and had less support than Options A and D. There were also concerns with sending Elver Park (Neighborhood 70) students to Elm Lawn after hearing about the supports in place at West Middleton and the feedback from families in that neighborhood and from principals. Facilitator Drew Howick noted that Option B wasn’t removed from further consideration, just tabled to enable more supported options to be explored.

The committee's next scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 25 will start at 6:45 p.m. to avoid conflicting with the MHS Homecoming parade. The meeting is scheduled to end at 8:45 p.m.

The District plans to hold two forums in October for District families and share the options that the committee members believe have the most potential while also getting feedback from attendees.

Visit the Internal Attendance Boundary Committee page on the District website for videos along with documents shared with members.