Three meetings and seven-and-a-half hours down, the committee that will consider new Verona Area School District attendance boundaries was set to see its first options this week.
The 29-member Attendance Area Advisory Committee was scheduled to meet Wednesday, Dec. 5, and at that meeting, consultant Mark Roffers planned to offer the first two of many options the committee will evaluate in the coming months.
“There will be more than two (eventually), but it will take us a while to learn how to read an option, to apply criteria, have a discussion, etc.,” consultant Drew Howlick explained at a Nov. 26 committee meeting.
The group is expected to recommend up to three options for the full school board to consider next spring. The new maps for elementary and middle schools would go into effect in the 2020-21 school year, when the new high school opens and lower-level schools shift into repurposed, larger buildings.
While waiting for the maps to be created, the boundary committee has been discussing a variety of topics that could relate to its choices.
At its most recent meeting, Nov. 26, the committee listened to presentations from district contractors and staff on transportation, the Two Way Immersion program and open enrollment. Two-and-a-half weeks earlier, the committee heard presentations on where growth was projected and the demographics of the district’s more than 5,000 students.
The presentations were aimed at helping committee members prepare to hear the coming options and put them in context with the seven criteria the school board gave to the committee to direct its work, Roffers explained.
“Those are … three pieces of additional information that you will need when you start to evaluate different options for attendance area boundaries,” he said.
Representatives from Badger Bus shared statistics Nov. 26 that showed how complex the system of busing is when factoring in the charter schools and TWI program. It led one group – separated table by table during the meeting – to write, “Bus routes are insane” under the question “What are we learning?”
As an example, Badger Bus vice president John Meier included a pair of neighborhoods in his presentation: the Scenic Ridge neighborhood that has nine routes going to eight schools and the New Fountains neighborhood that has 10 routes going to nine schools.
Some of that busing mix is caused by charters, while the TWI program also brings students from within the Country View and Stoner Prairie attendance areas to the other elementaries, complicating the routing.
The TWI program, another main subject of discussion at the Nov. 26 meeting, has classes taught in both Spanish and English and is split about 50-50 between native English- and Spanish-speaking children.
Under the program, students from the other elementary attendance areas who enroll in the program and are chosen in the lottery, if necessary, go to one of its two sites, Sugar Creek and Glacier Edge elementaries. District director of instructional equity and bilingual programming Laurie Burgos explained why the program is expected to remain at those sites based on student demographics and how that affects enrollments at the schools, as it takes students away from other buildings.