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February 13, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, February 13, 2004

New school boundaries in works New school boundaries in works (February 13, 2004)

Task force to review future changes

by Teresa C. Brown

Anticipating enrollment changes, the Pleasanton Unified School District has developed a timeline to review school attendance boundary revisions that could affect elementary, middle and high school students by 2006.

Rich Puppione, PUSD senior director of Pupil Services, told school board trustees Tuesday night that the attendance area task force would try to align the elementary schools "as feeder schools" to middle schools, and middle schools to the high schools.

One of the redistricting goals is to align entire elementary schools to one middle school and that middle school to a high school, Puppione said, adding that the goal would be a challenge. He explained that the intent was to keep students together "so we won't cut those elementary schools up by sending part of the school to one middle school" and another to different school.

The task force will have parents and students representing every school, both classified and administrative staff members, teachers and a representative from the curriculum department, Puppione said. A demographer will also be on hand to attend meetings as needed to answer questions about enrollment projections, he added.

While staying within the school attendance area board policy, the task force will review a number of factors for the possible boundary alignment, Puppione said.

The board policy and regulation 5191 provides guidelines for establishing attendance areas. The policy requires that consideration be given to the minimize the distance for the student majority; keep equality in class size while maximizing facility usage; and maintain a balanced social, ethnic and cultural composition to avoid segregation.

The task force would look at enrollment numbers in the magnet programs, such as the dual immersion program at Valley View Elementary and the Discovery program at Walnut Grove. Both unique programs attract students from throughout the district to those specific schools.

The Discovery program brings in a set number of students, 30 per grade level, but dual immersion draws in more, added Puppione. "Dual immersion started slow and has picked up steam, and every year has picked up 60 kids," he explained.

He also told the board that they wanted to balance the size of schools, within their individual capacity, and try to minimize future boundary adjustments.

"We'll look at open enrollment and will be looking at why there may be groups of students from one area going to a particular school in open enrollment," he said.

Additionally, other variables reviewed would include attendance area maps; current enrollment by attendance area as well as by inter-district transfers; projected K-12 enrollment and demographics; school size; the number of students in the magnet programs; and the classroom needs for Special Education; as well as soliciting input from the community.

Superintendent John Casey noted that the boundary scenario would include creating an attendance area for Neal Elementary School, and the timeline presented to the board consisted of target dates.

"It's important to give parents that notice," Trustee Juanita Haugen said of the October 2004 notice for changes occurring in 2006. While noting that it is difficult to change attendance areas, she added that there was a lot of flexibility built in the board's timeline.

"I do think we're getting to a point where we can minimize future adjustments because we are getting closer and closer to buildout," said Trustee Kris Weaver. She added that while "in theory" she was a proponent of keeping children from one school together throughout their grade advancement, she would be willing to "give on moving more students" if it meant a workable solution in the future.

Trustee Steve Pulido viewed the other side. Acknowledging that while he understood Weaver's point, he said, "We have to consider (the students affected) very highly because the number of students impacted is important to me."

Board President Gloria Fredette questioned whether "grandfathering," or allowing students to finish schools they have already started, would be allowed.

"That would be totally up to you," Puppione said, explaining that it was an issue the board would have to decide. However, the district staff would be able to provide the trustees with the number of students that would be affected by a "grandfathering" allowance.
Attendance task force estimated timeline

February/March 2004 Task force develops options Ongoing Staff works on enrollment with demographer April/May Community feedback solicited August Task force develops recommendation September Board reviews recommendation and feedback for approval October Parents notified of K-12 attendance area changes August 2006 Changes go into effect

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