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West considers allowing some students out of school boundary shift

Updated: January 6, 2013 9:46AM



AURORA — There will be 166 students impacted by a boundary shift designed to level the student population at the district’s four middle schools for the 2013-14 school year.

The shift will send students from Jefferson and Herget to Washington Middle School, to make the population at each middle school about 700 students.

Several School Board members this week spoke out against the idea of providing transportation to two different middle schools for students residing in the same area — a service that could end up costing the district as much as $47,000 for the school year, according to Pete Kerl, assistant superintendent of operations.

Board member Angie Smith suggested allowing the students to stay at their current middle schools if the parents could provide transportation themselves.

School Board President Neal Ormond suggested limiting the grandfathering to a neighborhood off of Galena Boulevard on the city’s far West Side.

A group of parents from the neighborhood spoke with the School Board in November, asking that their students be allowed to stay at their current schools.

That idea did not sit well with everyone on the board. The boundary changes would also impact a large chunk of geography on the near West Side, where the minority population is higher, and the tax base is lower. Some Hispanic parents also may not realize they have the right to question a School Board decision, Smith said.

“It looks like we’re giving a break to a neighborhood that has a higher tax base, and that makes me really nervous,” Smith said. “I think if we allow grandfathering, we allow it for all.”

Another option would be for the district to put an application process in place for the student to remain at their current school. Parents would need to convey their reason for wanting their student to stay in place.

“If we don’t grandfather, it doesn’t mean we’re shooting everything down,” Smith said.

The board is expected to make a decision on the issue at its next meeting on Jan. 7.

But providing too many allowances could have a significant impact on the bottom line.

“You have to be careful about this, or you’ll end up eroding your boundary decision,” Superintendent James Rydland said.



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