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Mville sets boundaries for new Grove, Pinewood and Allen Creek schools
MARYSVILLE Parents poured over detailed maps last week as they worked out attendance areas for the 11 elementary schools that will be open in the Marysville School District starting in 2008.
A committee of more than 50 staff and parents is also determining the attendance areas of what will be three middle schools next fall, as Marysville Junior High School switches to a grades six, seven and eight configuration. Because elementary schools feed those schools, the Boundary Advisory Committee is setting attendance areas for the elementary schools first. Middle schools will change in the fall of 2007, elementary schools a year later.
Their recommendations are pending approval by the Marysville School Board, and the committee has agreed on boundaries for the new Grove Street Elementary School and adjusted those of neighboring Pinewood and Allen Creek elementary schools. District administrators concede the issue might generate sparks when some parents find their youngsters might be moved, but about 40 members of the committee were parceling out students in a calm and deliberate manner during the Jan. 11 meeting at district headquarters. The last time boundaries were moved this drastically was in 1992 when Quil Ceda Elementary School was built.
I think we are moving forward and thats all that you can ask, said parent Toni Otto, who has two tots who will attend Allen Creek in coming years. She said the committee was taking everyones feelings into consideration.
Using a sophisticated $40,000 computer program, the committee was seeing the effects of their suggestions on busing routes, drive time and funding resources while working to keep communities together and children safe on their way to school. The district policy is to bus children that live more than a mile from their school unless dangerous conditions dictate otherwise. When the district opts to bus children less than a mile from school those trips are not funded according to state regulations.
As mothers Jackie Massingale and Phyllis McCorkle poured over several maps of the proposed Allen Creek attendance areas, Kellogg Marsh principal John Waldrop cautioned them that the new Grove Street school will likely open at capacity, tapping the northeast corner of the proposed boundary.
We may have to take some back here, Waldrop said.
The Grove boundaries stretch to SR 9 on the east, 84th Street NE on the north and roughly 59th Avenue on the west. The southern border is a stair-step comprised of 73rd, 75th and 70th Streets NE. Since the new elementary school to be built at the intersection of Grove Street and 67th Avenue NE will be close to Kellogg Marsh, Allen Creek and Pinewood elementary schools the Grove attendance boundaries will end up directly taking a bite from each of those attendance areas. The committee reached consensus on areas for Allen Creek and Pinewood elementary schools, with 568 students for the former and 497 students in the adjacent community for Pinewood. Pinewood is also allotted 102 highly-capable students from around the entire district area for a total of 599 students that will attend the 84th Street campus.
District transportation supervisor Joe LeGare used the VersaTrans computer program to show parents how their tweaks would effect the students, buses and funding. One map showed the effects of removing a cul de sac from the Allen Creek area that housed 29 students. To keep a community together those kids would remain at Sunnyside Elementary School, according to the committee recommendation.
The largest change to the Pinewood configuration was the inclusion of the Rolling Greens development, which is a peninsula bisected by the schools one-mile radius. LeGare explained that by locating a couple stops just at the one-mile boundary his drivers could pick up the students living inside the boundary, eliminating a walk along 58th Avenue that would have required crossing busy 88th Street NE. There are currently 79 students now walking to Cascade Elementary School on busy 100th Street NE and LeGare said their parents will be happy with the switch. Some other students near Dells Nursery are bused to Marshall Elementary School but their trip is not funded; the switch to Pinewood will be.
John Hewitt is a teacher at Cascade who questioned the remote peninsula and asked how long kids would spend on the bus. LeGare told him it would only be a seven to 10 minute bus ride.
It just seems like its so far away, Hewitt said.
There are 5,000 kindergarten-through fifth-grade students in the district, just less than half the student body, and the committee will continue to adjust boundaries for the other schools during the next two months with final recommendations before the school board during April, according to committee chairman John Fotheringham. The next focus will be on the Kellogg Marsh, Liberty and Sunnyside elementary boundaries.
Andy Rogers is heading the team deciding the middle school boundaries involving Marysville, Cedarcrest and the new Totem middle schools. He taps a document with the word DRAFT several times with his finger.
Were trying to emphasize this, Rogers smiled. Even the final recommendations are subject to adjustments he added.
His document listed several priorities: highest were keeping the Grove students to one middle school and keeping other elementary schools students together as they move their way up the ladder. The next-highest focus was keeping neighborhoods together, leaving room for growth and minimizing travel time by keeping students close to their schools. Lowest priorities included racial make up, changing feeder patterns and other factors. The district must follow state laws requiring racial balance.
Do you think this will ever get done? asked superintendent Larry Nyland, who had just returned from Washington, D.C. where he and three other nominees were interviewed for selection as National School Superintendent of the Year honors.
He was sanguine about his chances, although he felt he was middlin in his interviews with the selection panel. Of the four finalists, Nyland said he is by far the newest in tenure, with Marysville for less than three years while the other candidates go back decades with their district, although not all of those years were in a leadership role. He felt a change in the selection committees focus on student learning and achievement, whereas in past years a superintendent might be honored for a new building program or other focus.
All of us are recognized for improvements in instruction,