Committee evaluates variations to options

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The Internal Attendance Boundary Committee reviewed variations to Options A and D and recommended that each one continue to be considered at their ninth meeting on Monday, Aug. 5 at the Kromrey community room.

The meeting was moved from the District Services Center to accommodate more attendees, including the Board of Education, which had seven members at Monday's meeting. Future meetings will be held at Kromrey unless a larger space is needed, Director of Communications Perry Hibner said.

In Option A1, the West Middleton attendance area shrinks to get its enrollment below the current capacity of 443, consultant Mark Roffers noted. It has the southeast neighborhoods attending West Middleton, but other neighborhoods along Mineral Point Road moved to Pope Farm or Sunset Ridge. Two neighborhoods west of the Beltline would go to Elm Lawn. Neighborhood 25, which is within walking distance of Pope Farm but currently goes to Sauk Trail, would still move to Pope Farm.

Roffers noted no school is over capacity in 2025, although West Middleton is projected to be at 443. Roffers noted Park, Pope Farm and West Middleton may be over capacity by 2030, while Elm Lawn may be about 100 students under capacity. In Option A1, 28 percent of students would change schools, compared with 22 percent in Option A. Of the 76 neighborhoods, 23 would change schools in Option A1, compared with 20 in Option A. In Option A1, 83 percent would attend their closest school, compared with 84 percent in Option A. He noted today 71 percent currently attend their closes school. Parts of Blackhawk and 16E would also shift to walking zones.

In Option D1, Neighborhood 7 returns to Northside, but Roffers noted that means other neighborhoods would need to be sent to Sauk Trail. Mineral Point Road between Pioneer and Junction Roads is used as dividing line for West Middleton and Pope Farm.

In Option D1, West Middleton is projected to be under capacity in 2025, while Elm Lawn is projected to be about 100 students under capacity. Pope Farm and Park are likely to be capacity by 2030 with this option. Roffers also noted the diversity numbers in Options A1 and D1 are similar. In Option D1, 18 percent of students would change schools, compared with 17 percent in Option D. Twelve neighborhoods would change schools, compared with 11 in Option D. Roffers also noted 83 percent of 2025 students would attend their closest school.

Roffers also reviewed why the options keep changing Sauk Trail’s attendance area. He reminded members that Neighborhood 25, which is within walking distance of Pope Farm, currently attends Sauk Trail and has about 80 elementary-aged students. If those students moved to Pope Farm without backfilling, Sauk Trail’s enrollment would only be about 283 with a capacity of nearly 400, while the free and reduced lunch percentage would jump to about 50 percent.

Members evaluated Options A1 and D1 and made multiple suggestions for other variations to each option. Facilitator Drew Howick noted based on the feedback an Option A2 and Option D2 may be presented at the next meeting on Sept. 5.

Options C and E were eliminated from consideration at the July 22 meeting. Option B is still under consideration although members noted at the last meeting they thought Options A and D had more promise and met more of the eight criteria being used to evaluate each option.

Board president Bob Green addressed the committee at the start of the meeting. After thanking them, Green reviewed the eight criteria the committee was asked to use to evaluate the options. He noted no additional criteria -- including balancing socio-economic numbers across all of the elementary schools -- has been added. He also noted the Board will be discussing at its regular meeting on Aug. 13 whether to share the online feedback that has been provided by residents with the committee. If the Board approves sharing the e-mails, any personal identifiable information will be redacted, he noted.

Members Cecile Ballard, Julie Winkelmann and Deb Pickett also reviewed the work of the committee to date. All three agreed the committee is trying to remove barriers for students and families who are most marginalized. They all noted a goal is to move the fewest number of children and have them go to the closest possible school.

Visit the Internal Attendance Boundary Committee page on the District website for videos and summaries from each meeting along with documents shared with members.