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Elementary school boundary plans handed off

The elementary attendance boundary task force made a few final changes to its three plans last Monday before handing them off to the middle school task force, which began its work on the plans the same night.

The elementary task force met at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at the District Service Center in Cottage Grove to polish up Red, White and Blue plans. It ended up making three changes based on oversight committee comments. The Middle school task force picked up the plans at 7:30 p.m.

The middle school task force will decide if the existing feeder system of elementary schools into junior highs will be kept for middle schools.

The elementary task force met four times to come up with three plans that were sent to an oversight committee, a group of 200 parents and residents that met Jan. 15.

Attendance boundaries are being adjusted to make way for the opening of East Ridge High School in 2009 that will add ninth-graders to East Ridge, Park and Woodbury high schools. Junior highs will convert to middle schools with grades six, seven and eight. Elementary schools will house kindergarten to fifth grades.

New boundaries are being drawn to relieve over-crowding at Liberty Ridge Elementary School in Woodbury and Cottage Grove Elementary School in the south half of the district.

Three plans for grades K-12 are due to come before the school board April 10.

The first set of plans was modified before it was handed off to the middle school task force by adding Carver Lake Summit, Lakeridge Townhomes, Lakeview Townhomes, Lakepointe and Villas of Carver Lake on the western edge of Woodbury to the Newport Elementary School attendance area in the Red Plan.

In the White and Blue plans students in that area also attend Newport Elementary School, which currently has 268 students.

The oversight committee comments expressed concern that Newport Elementary remain a viable school. Mike Vogel, assistant to the superintendent for facilities, who also serves as a boundary process facilitator, said 242 students are needed to have two sections of classes for each level.

Superintendent Tom Nelson has said there are no plans to close Newport Elementary.

Another change is to divide a rural area east of Bailey Elementary School and south of Middleton Elementary School to the eastern edge of the district in Woodbury between the two Woodbury schools in the Red and White plans. The entire area is in the Grey Cloud Elementary School attendance area in Cottage Grove in the Blue Plan.

The area does not currently have many students. Julie Nielsen, Middleton principal, said isolated students have trouble making new friends if they are moved to new schools.

Though there were numerous oversight committee pleas for changes in the northeast part of the district in all three plans, the task force made no changes.

There were oversight committee concerns that too many students that now walk to school would ride buses in the three proposed plans.

In the Blue Plan, 39 walkers would ride buses, in the Red Plan it would be 53 and it would be 21 in the White Plan, according the district's transportation department.

"Without doing routing, it's hard to tell how many buses would be needed," Vogel said.

Dale Schmitz, elementary task force member, suggested the district craft a policy that all students within a specified distance of a school should walk.

One-mile walking distance requirements would intersect with other schools, according to Vogel, and wouldn't work in areas where students are bused because of unsafe conditions such as roads with speed limits of more than 45 miles per hour.

Judy Spooner can be reached at

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600