Parents meet with school officials about boundary changes |

Parents meet with school officials about boundary changes

Some parents concerned about boundary changes between Glenwood Springs’ two elementary schools said Thursday part of their uneasiness with the change derives from the notion that the schools’ programs aren’t quite the same. More than 20 parents and teachers from Glenwood Springs and Sopris elementary schools attended a school accountability committee meeting at GSES Thursday afternoon, during which both schools’ principals discussed the need for the boundary changes. The Roaring Fork School District Re-1 board on Wednesday made official the boundary changes that will require all future GSES students who currently have no siblings at the school and live in parts of southwest Glenwood and west of the Roaring Fork River to attend Sopris Elementary. The board made an exception for students living within walking distance of GSES. Parents were passionate about the fact that the opportunities for student field trips are different at both schools. One fourth-grade teacher at Sopris Elementary takes his students to Arches National Park in Utah, said Sopris Principal Howard Jay. Other fourth-graders go to Mesa Verde National Park, while their counterparts at GSES do not have the opportunity to take the same trip. Jay said differences in teaching styles are good for kids, but schools need to be able to strike a balance. Issues with changes in the community also played into some concern about the boundary adjustments. District officials have said for months that the impetus for the boundary change is community growth, a need to provide racial balance at the schools and extra room at Sopris Elementary, where eight new classrooms are being built. Currently, GSES has 590 students, 49 percent of whom are Latino. Sopris Elementary is filled to capacity with 442 students, 34 percent of whom are Latino. GSES Principal Sonya Hemmen said the school has seen an enrollment increase in the children of laborers, particularly steel workers, who enroll their students for only a few months at a time before leaving town.Whatever the differences in the schools’ programs and racial makeups, Hemmen said both schools are unique, but they both have good programs. Jay said the boundary adjustments will give the elementary schools room to accommodate growth for the next three to five years. GSES was unexpectedly flooded with about 90 new students this year, leaving school officials scrambling to find places for them all. A large student body is nothing new to GSES; at one time the school had nearly 1,000 students, but had very large class sizes, said Shannon Pelland, RFSD finance director.She called the 90 students an “anomaly,” and Sopris Elementary Principal Howard Jay called such an influx next year improbable. But with Glenwood’s growth certain, a third elementary school may soon be necessary, Pelland said. Boundary changes, Jay said, will allow Sopris Elementary to once again become an “open enrollment” school, allowing students to attend who live outside the district. Today, only one student living outside of RFSD, the child of a teacher from Silt, attends Sopris Elementary. Twenty students from other districts attend GSES, Hemmen said, some coming from as far away as Edwards. Parents who are within walking distance of GSES need to let Sopris Elementary know which school they’ll be sending their kids to, Jay said. “It would help if you’d let us know,” he said. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext.

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