Fifth graders who would change schools under new boundary maps in 2020 are still being considered for grandfathering by the school board.
The Verona Area school board ruled out all other grades.
Board members began discussing whether any elementary school students could be exempted from changing schools at their Aug. 19 meeting, and they agreed in conversation that grades below fifth will have to change schools when the new maps go into effect. For fifth graders, they expect to make a decision next month on one of three possibilities: mandatory grandfathering, a mandatory move to the new maps or giving parents a choice to stay or move.
The decision will affect up to 58 students who live in neighborhoods that are switching under the new boundaries approved last month and attend an attendance area elementary school. The boundaries will take effect as the new high school opens and other schools in the district shift to new buildings.
“It needs to be simple,” board member Carolyn Jahnke said. “It needs to rip the Band-Aid off as cleanly as possible. We need to move on from this, and it can’t be something that hangs over us for years and years and years.”
Board members hope to get information at the next meeting, scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, on transportation costs and building capacity with or without grandfathering. They also hope to find out how many of the 58 fifth graders would have younger siblings attending the new school – something they expect would help them estimate how many might choose to move.
Board members hope to make a decision at that meeting, board president Noah Roberts said. The meeting location remains to be determined, because the administration building area will be busy with crowds for the high school’s annual cross country invitational.
Some expressed concerns about a choice option because it would present a planning challenge and because an exact cost could not be determined.
“I do want to add flexibility wherever we can, but I need to know how much it’s going to cost,” board treasurer Amy Almond said.
Much of that cost would be from transportation, and without knowing which students would choose to stay and which would move, Badger Bus cannot determine how many extra routes grandfathering would necessitate.
Roberts was specifically in favor of allowing a choice, but only “if the numbers work and it’s administratively feasible.”
“Moving students is not a preference.” Roberts said. “We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t have to.”
Superintendent Dean Gorrell said they would likely need to have decisions from families by sometime around Dec. 1 if a choice is offered.
While board members said they had a desire to limit disruption, Almond said she was confident in the district’s staff to make whatever arrangements they approve as easy as possible for students.
“I have a lot of faith in our staff that we can figure this out even if you don’t get what you want,” Almond said.