New K-8 school boundaries under review | PostIndependent.com

New K-8 school boundaries under review

Community meetings on school boundaries

• 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 3, Glenwood Springs Middle School (media room)

• 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, Glenwood Springs Elementary School

Some parts of Glenwood Springs could be moved to different elementary school attendance areas as the Roaring Fork School District looks to adjust boundaries for the new K-8 Eastbank school that is currently under construction.

The new as-yet-unnamed school to open next school year, part of the $122 million bond issue approved by voters last year, will serve the areas south of Glenwood Springs, starting east of Colorado 82/Glen Avenue in the vicinity of the Roaring Fork Marketplace.

Moving south, the attendance area would straddle the highway and the Roaring Fork River south of the city limits taking in the Ironbridge, Red Canyon, CMC turnoff and Spring Valley areas. Future development near 82 and Cattle Creek would also be included in the new school boundaries.

Current students in kindergarten to eighth grade living in those areas who now attend Sopris Elementary School or Glenwood Springs Middle School would likely be given some choice whether to go to the new school or not, as long as it doesn’t create an overcrowding situation at any one school, district officials said.

However, in an effort to achieve better balance in student enrollment and socioeconomic mix between the different schools, attendance areas for both Sopris and Glenwood Springs elementary schools could shift, and choice may be limited.

Two school boundary options are on the table and are now the subject of a series of community meetings continuing this week and next. Eventually, the RFSD school board will decide which direction to go.

One option would balance the schools by drawing part of West Glenwood, west of Mel Rey Road, into the attendance area for Sopris Elementary, located in Glenwood Park on the south end of town, and sending students from the Red Mountain neighborhoods to GSES.

The other option would minimize boundary changes, leaving Sopris and GSES attendance areas in the main part of town intact, and only creating the new Eastbank attendance area.

In either scenario, the district intends to open the new school with roughly 360 students between the elementary and middle school sections. But maintaining the current boundaries for the other two elementary schools could create some disparity in enrollment and the percentage of low-income students.

“We want to support parent choice, but we also want to be conscious about equity,” RFSD Superintendent Rob Stein said during a school board meeting last week, adding he’s not recommending either boundary option at this point.

“We want the community to tell us what they want, and we have a strong interest in getting the boundaries right from the start,” he said. “It’s much harder to make adjustments afterwards.”

Based on current enrollment, the balanced option shifting the existing school boundaries would give GSES 441 students with 51 percent qualifying for free and reduced lunch, and Sopris would have 426 students at 41 percent free and reduced.

By minimizing boundary changes, GSES would have 450 students at 52 percent free and reduced, and Sopris would have 420 students at 40 percent.

Adding current choice trends to the equation, where students attend the school outside their attendance area, GSES would have 505 students at 50 percent free and reduced, and Sopris would have 365 students at 41 percent.

Glenwood Middle School’s attendance area would not change in either of the scenarios, and would go from 539 students currently to 415 students after the new Eastbank school opens.

At the first of three community meetings to present and discuss the boundary options, held at Sopris Elementary last week, some parents expressed concerns about transportation if the boundaries are changed and they decide to keep their children in the school they currently attend. Busing to their school of choice would not be available.

Middle school parents also asked about transportation to and from extracurricular activities, including sports, which for now will still be centralized at GSMS until the new middle school is better-established.

A main point of discussion was whether students in the new school attendance area could continue to attend Sopris and then go to the Eastbank school once they reach middle school (sixth grade) age.

School board members at last week’s meeting said the choice issue will need to be a separate discussion aside from that of setting the school boundaries. Board member Matt Hamilton noted that some Carbondale-area families may want to choice into the new school, which also will need to be factored in.

Additional community meetings to discuss the boundary options will be this Thursday at Glenwood Middle School and Monday, Nov. 7, at GSES. The school board expects to continue the discussion at its two meetings in November, and intends to decide on the school boundaries by January when early enrollment requests will be solicited.

Community members can also view information about the boundary options and respond to an online survey at http://bit.ly/2f6eiuY


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