Missoula
31° F
Light Freezing Fog
Light Freezing Fog
Kalispell
37° F
Rain
Rain
Bozeman
37° F
Scattered Clouds
Scattered Clouds
Advertisement

Bozeman School District approves boundary changes to dismay of upset parents

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: Mar 04 2013 11:24:59 PM MST
Updated On: Mar 04 2013 11:50:27 PM MST
Bozeman School District approves boundary changes
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Tensions ran high at a Bozeman School District meeting Monday night.

The Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve the recommended plan to change middle and elementary school boundaries, but not before hearing from several concerned parents.

Dozens packed the meeting, sharing their opinions and frustrations. No one spoke on the proposed middle school boundaries, but all voiced concerns over elementary school plans.

This comes after a Boundary Realignment Committee spent 14 hours deliberating possible new boundaries, and making a final recommendation to the Board of Trustees.

The Committee wasn't able to come to a unanimous decision on the plan, but a majority did vote for the option that Trustees adopted.

Parents at Monday's meeting said they feel comments made at past meetings weren't included in the Boundary Realignment Committee's decision process, and should have been.

Others questioned the committee process itself. One parent said she didn't know the meetings were open to the public, and that the school district didn't fairly advertise that to all parents.

One of the main concerns involved moving kids in the Painted Hills area southeast of town from Morning Star to the less crowded Irving School.

Some parents said they didn't think the recommended map made sense because it would forced them to attend a school farther away.

Others worried about safe routes to school.

Parents living west of 19th on the south side of town said they didn't want to move from Morning Star to Hyalite Elementary, because of the extra distance they'd have to travel. They also said it'd be an economic burden.

Many said they reason they live in the area they do is because of the elementary school their children would attend. They said they strategically bought or built a house based on which school- and were upset at the thought of having their kids attend a different school.

A few people came up with proposals for the school district- like a clause that would give families affected by the change priority to request their child keep attending the school of their choice.

School district officials said they wouldn't be able to factor in those types of exceptions because of fairness issues.

"The guarantee is that you get to go to a public school" said Trustee Sue McGrath. "There are no guarantees beyond that."

The plan will which send 25 Painted Hills students from Morning Star to Irving, and calls for sending 67 students west and south of 19th from Morning Star to Hyalite.

A group of students living between the 8th elementary and Emily Dickinson will be re-assigned from the latter to the former, in addition to all Emily Dickinson West students.

All Irving West students would make the switch to elementary 8 as well.

Under the  final plan, Emily Dickinson would decrease from 664 students in the attendance area, to 409.

Morning Star would also decrease, from 572 to 479. Hyalite's number would drop from 482 to 404.

Irving would increase the number of students in the attendance area from 212 to 237.

Elementary 8 would see 401 students. Hawthorne, Whittier and Longfellow would stay unchanged at 326, 264 and 300, respectively.

The district also discussed the out of attendance area enrollment and placement process, including possible changes, but made no decision.

Current 3rd graders (who will be in 5th grade by that time) will be grandfathered into their current elementary school. Siblings will have priority to stay in a school together.

Click here to see the new elementary school boundaries. To see the new middle school boundaries, click here.

For the graph on existing versus future attendance area numbers, click here.

The new boundaries are set to take effect in the fall of 2014.