Board won’t budge on school attendance map Print
Community
Written by JOE POIRIER   
Wednesday, 25 October 2017 16:07

Members stand by new assignment plan despite request to have elementary students grandfathered into current schools

    After taking parents’ concerns into consideration, the Grafton School Board voted unanimously on Monday not to allow elementary school students to be grandfathered into their current schools — a decision made after the district adopted a new attendance map in September.
    The board had to reassign students to schools because of a $39.9 million referendum approved by voters in April that calls for the demolition of Grafton Elementary School and the expansion of Woodview and Kennedy.
    Grafton Elementary School students will be assigned to other schools for the 2018-19 school year, but other elementary school students will also be affected.
    The attendance map divides the district along Washington Street and First Avenue, with students living north of the border attending Woodview and those on the south going to Kennedy.
    The challenges the district addressed when redrawing the attendance map included balancing the number of students between the two schools, planning the busing routes and determining the travel times for parents.
    “One of our goals as a district was to eliminate shuttles between our K-5 buildings, and if we look at grandfathering students at various grade levels we aren’t able to plan accordingly for space in the classrooms,” Supt. Jeff Nelson said.
    “If we did grandfather students, where would we draw the line with that? We decided administratively it could cause issues in the future.”
    The board considered grandfathering current fourth-grade students so they could attend their respective elementary school for next year.
    “From my recollection on the board, we’ve grandfathered in the past because of space constraints, and several years ago there was a desire to reduce busing costs,” board member Paul Lorge said.
    “When applying those provisions here, this isn’t a space constraint or cost issue, this is a start-over type issue. We have an opportunity here to eliminate all of the grandfathering and it makes sense that we do that.”
    School Board President Terry Ziegler agreed.
    “The last time we did grandfathering we tried to please everyone but there was essentially a domino effect, and two years down the road we realized we didn’t really save any money and there were some unforeseen dominoes,” Ziegler said.
    “Even if we do a limited grandfathering, we don’t know what other problems there are down the road.”
    Several parents in attendance expressed their concerns with the transition.
    “Please put yourselves in those families shoes for two seconds,” Sarah McCraw said. “If your kid has been going to the same school for five years, how would you feel if they couldn’t finish their last year there before middle school?”
    Board members acknowledged the parents’ concerns and told them that its decision was a difficult one.
    “In the long run, grandfathering is going to cause issues that the community is not going to be pleased with,” Nelson said.
    “We put in a lot time and collected data for the board to look at this sensitive and emotional issue objectively.”