School district set to examine elementary school boundaries
SUMMIT COUNTY School children live where their parents live, and changing demographics in Summit County are having an effect on the enrollment numbers of three of the countys elementary schools, school superintendent Millie Hamner told the school board at its most recent meeting.In a memo to the board, Hamner said that although school boundaries will remain unchanged for the upcoming school year, the district intends to start investigating the possibility of new boundaries for Breckenridge, Upper Blue and Frisco elementary schools better suited to the population shifts within the county.New home construction, especially of affordable units, can have a major impact on where children live. While Frisco is adding eight units of affordable housing in 2006, Breckenridge plans to add 150 over the next three years in phase two of the Wellington Neighborhood development.Current enrollment figures at the three schools have already started to reflect changing neighborhood populations within the county. Frisco Elementary had only 28 first-graders this year, while Breckenridge had 47.If we dont do anything differently, eventually Breckenridge Elementary will be over capacity, she said. We think this is a good time to step back and make a plan for the future.The Summit School District currently has a policy of open enrollment. Parents have the option to send their children to any elementary school, but must provide their own transportation if they choose to attend a school not assigned to their neighborhood.Upper Blue principal Kerry Buehler said the district has no immediate plans to discontinue open enrollment, but she emphasized the value of children attending their neighborhood school.One thing we really value in our district is our small elementary schools, she said. Children do best when they continue in the same school from kindergarten through fifth grade, she added.Upper Blue, built to be the largest of the three schools, has a catchment area that extends from Farmers Korner through Tiger Road, Silver Shekel, Peak 7 and Peak 8 and ends in French Creek. According to Buehler, the school hosts 20 to 30 open-enrollment students, from other parts of the county as well as from as far away as Fairplay, but there remains space for many more kids.The imbalance between enrollments at Upper Blue and Breckenridge was the original impetus for the current boundary discussion, but the school district soon realized Frisco should be included in the conversation, Buehler said.In order to gain an accurate long-term picture of the county, Hamner said the district is hoping to enlist the help of a demographer.An informational meeting was held May 1 at Upper Blue for parents interested in potential boundary changes, and a memo on the subject was included in elementary school newsletters. The districts plan is to assemble a task force of parents, teachers and staff next fall to study the issue with the goal of formulating new boundaries for the 2007-2008 school year.We know these kinds of decision are very personal, and we want to include parents in this conversation, Hamner said.Harriet Hamilton can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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