The preliminary plan is set. Now Oregon School District officials want to hear what people think about it.
With a new elementary school set to open next September, the district moved a step closer to establishing new attendance boundaries for K-6 students on Oct. 28 with the school board’s “conceptual approval” of a plan to essentially split the district in lateral thirds.
With that now in hand, the district is looking for feedback before final board decides whether to approve it, which will likely occur Dec. 16. Prior to then, the district has scheduled three listening sessions for next month to let people view district presentations, ask questions and provide comments.
Those sessions are set for 6:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, at Oregon Middle School, 9-10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, at Rome Corners Intermediate School and 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12 at Rome Corners Intermediate School.
Board members voted to move their next meeting date back a week to Monday, Dec. 16 to give them more time to process information from all three sessions. President Steve Zach said the district is seeking public feedback “as much as we can.”
“Boundary changes are significant to parents,” he said.
District superintendent Brian Busler said the sessions will be similar to referendum meetings in recent years, with several stations for people to view information and ask questions, as well as a “real short presentation.”
“ The goal isn’t for parents to come listen to us,” he said. “The goal is to provide information to parents and get their feedback.”
In its “conceptual approval” the board essentially OK’d the recommendation of a district task force comprising OSD administrators, staff, parents and community members that had been working since spring on boundary plans. Those new boundaries will take place when the new K-6 elementary school in Fitchburg opens Sept. 2, 2020.
Criteria included transportation safety/efficiency, students attend schools close to where they live,” and “planning lead(ing) to logical subsequent transitions.”
The plan calls for roughly the northern third of students to attend the new K-6 school being built to the east of the Lacy Road/Hwy. 14 interchange. The central third would attend either Netherwood or Prairie View Elementary and Rome Corners Intermediate, and the southern third would attend Brooklyn Elementary and RCI.
All students will attend Oregon Middle School and Oregon High School regardless of boundaries.
Busler said the task force provided a “rational and reasonable model,” and now the goal is to create “as smooth a process as possible” for the new boundaries. He said the district is continuing to use the concept of “dynamic boundaries,” which he said has been a standard since before his arrival in 2006.
“We gave parents a lot of choices and feedback in terms of which school they like their son or daughter to attend and we’ve continued that approach, though we’re starting to color in some frameworks for where the kids will move from,” he said. “Remember, every dollar we spend on transportation is a dollar we can’t spend in the classroom.”
While final details are pending, the proposal has three basic parameters: Students would go to the school closest to their home, with an exemption process available to families and simplified busing zones for each attendance area.
According to the plan, each K-6 student will be assigned a school based on where they live, with “every attempt to honor the current placement of K-4 families” in the central and southern sections.
Students entering fourth and sixth grades will be prioritized in the school assignment change process “as we recognize that some students may prefer to stay in their currently assigned school for their final year,” it read.
The plan would also call for moving five sections of incoming fifth-graders to the new Fitchburg K-6 school to “alleviate overcrowding at Rome Corners” and “allow for optimal utilization of the new school building while the neighborhoods near the new school continue to grow.”
“As every student entering grade 5 in the fall of 2020 is making a transition, it is an appropriate time to move up to 5 sections of incoming grade 5 students to (the new school),” the plan reads.
The process for determining which incoming grade 5 students will attend the new school has yet to be determined by district officials.