Bozeman parents concerned about which schools their children will attend in the future turned out Friday to ask questions and take a closer look at three proposals for changing elementary and middle school boundaries.
The public meeting at Emily Dickinson School attracted about two dozen parents and was one of five Bozeman school officials are holding at schools to hear people’s comments before a recommendation is made to the Bozeman School Board.
“I realize this is an emotional issue for a lot of folks,” Superintendent Rob Watson said. He stressed that no final decisions have been made.
Bozeman’s elementary enrollment has grown so fast — about 500 students in the past three years — that voters last year approved building an eighth elementary school on Durston Road for $20 million, just three years after opening the seventh school, Hyalite. The new school, which may open as early as this fall, requires drawing new attendance boundaries.
One of the neighborhoods most affected by past changes is Elk Grove, south of Four Corners. One mother said that her child attended Morning Star one year, then Longfellow and then Emily Dickinson, and she’d be upset if they have to change again.
Under the proposed changes, Elk Grove’s younger kids would attend the new, unnamed school No. 8 instead of Emily Dickinson, while its middle-school students would go to Chief Joseph instead of Sacajawea.
However, the new boundaries wouldn’t take effect until fall 2014. In fall 2013, parents could keep their kids in their current neighborhood schools, as long as they’re attending what’s now their neighborhood school, or switch to their new schools.
In 2014, students could stay at their old schools only if there’s enough room, so that children living in the new attendance area aren’t bumped out. An exception would be made for fifth-graders — today’s third-graders — who wouldn’t be forced to change schools.
New middle-school boundaries would take effect this coming fall.
Three different maps are being considered:
- In Option 1, kids attending school No. 8 would live generally west of Ferguson Road and Cottonwood Road, including Valley West and Elk Grove subdivisions (excluding the Baxter Meadows subdivision, so the neighborhood wouldn’t be split). Morning Star School’s attendance area would shrink, by busing Painted Hills kids to Longfellow School and busing kids living between South 19th and Fowler Lane to Hyalite School. The boundary between Irving and Longfellow schools would shift east from Fourth Avenue to South Willson Avenue, to fill up Irving School and make room at Longfellow for Painted Hills students.
- In Option 2, kids living south of Goldenstein Lane and east of Fowler would stay at Morning Star School. Students living east of Sourdough Road, including in Painted Hills, Sourdough Ridge and Triple Tree subdivisions, would be bused to Irving School, instead of being part of Morning Star. The boundary between Irving and Longfellow would remain at South Fourth Avenue.
- In Option 3, kids living south of Goldenstein Lane, between Fowler and 19th Avenue, would be bused to Irving School. Painted Hills would be bused to Longfellow, and the Irving-Longfellow boundary would shift to Willson Avenue. Sourdough Ridge and Triple Tree would remain with Morning Star.
In all three scenarios, Whittier and Hawthorne school boundaries would remain unchanged. Maps showing all the options are posted on the school district’s website. The public can also submit written comments through the website.
Two more public meetings will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Hyalite School and noon Wednesday at Longfellow School. The Boundary Realignment Committee will meet again at the end of this month and the School Board will hold a hearing in early March before making its decision.
Gail Schontzler can be reached at email@example.com or 582-2633.