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Lifelong Learning

October 30, 2003 Meeting Notes

Elementary School Attendance Area Task Force
Moorhead Area Public Schools
7 p.m. October 30, 2003
Townsite Centre Board Room

Members Present:

Mark Weston,
Dan Bacon,
Beth Henning,
Julie Arnold,
Diane Mead,
Lisa Christian,
Terri Smith,
Mark Ringham,
Dann Bjornstad,
Tim Magnusson,
Jeff Schaumann,
Kevin Kopperud,
Lynne Kovash,
Rosemary Hirchert

Members Absent:

Jim Cummings,
Brenda Rapske

District Representatives:

Dr. Larry Nybladh, superintendent,
Pam Gibb, communications coordinator

Call to Order and Introductions

Dr. Nybladh called the meeting to order. Members introduced themselves, and an updated membership list was provided.

Review of Task Force Responsibilities

Dr. Nybladh reviewed the task force's responsibilities with the members. Nybladh explained that the task force was charged with determining a recommendation for three elementary school attendance areas. The timeline originally reflected a starting date of mid September with an estimated completion date of Dec. 15. Since the task force is beginning its work later, the final deadline could be moved into January if necessary.

Selection of Leadership

Dr. Nybladh indicated that the task force would need to select a chair, vice chair and recorder. He reminded task force members that district staff would be available as resources. Kevin Kopperud, Mark Weston and Tim Magnusson were nominated as chair. Kopperud indicated that because of his current responsibilities with the upcoming transition he would prefer not to serve as chair. Task force members voted by secret ballot. Weston received the most votes and was named chair. Magnusson received the next highest amount of votes and was named vice chair. Weston asked if Pam Gibb would be available to serve as recorder. This would allow all task force members to participate in discussion.

Review of District Information

Task force members were provided with a map showing the current elementary attendance areas and a map showing the school district's facilities beginning in 2004-05. Currently there are four elementary schools with grades K-4/5 (George Washington, Thomas Edison, Riverside and Probstfield). Currently students in the rural north areas attend Washington, while those from rural south areas go to Riverside. Beginning in 2004-05, there will be three grades K-5 elementary schools with similar capacity: Robert Asp Elementary School in north Moorhead, Ellen Hopkins Elementary School toward the center of Moorhead, and S.G. Reinertsen Elementary School in south Moorhead.

Lynne Kovash provided information related to the estimated capacity of the three elementary schools. Capacity calculations were based on the number of classrooms/sections for each grade level and the target class size in each section. Capacity at all three schools is approximately 817 students. If swing classrooms are used at Robert Asp and Ellen Hopkins capacity would be 892 students. If swing classrooms are used at S.G. Reinertsen, capacity would be about 867 students. Swing classrooms are resource rooms that will allow groups of students to work together. If necessary the rooms could be used as a grade level classroom.

There was some discussion that when the class sizes at one elementary school are too high, the district may do an administrative transfer. This balances class size by moving students to another school. Some students living south of the Interstate have been transferred to Edison and Riverside when the Probstfield class sizes began getting large. This would generally be done with a new family coming into the district. All students in the family would attend a different school than the one in the attendance area where they live.

Questions were asked related to the Spanish Immersion program. The Spanish Immersion program has students from throughout the district, although most are from the Probstfield attendance area. The immersion program will be located at Ellen Hopkins beginning in 2004-05.

Kovash shared with the task force the draft of the district's School Profiles document, which includes information about the enrollment at each school.

Dr. Nybladh shared information about district goals with task force members. The goals include efficiency, effectiveness, equity and future growth. Efficiency as it is related to the attendance areas means transportation efficiency and minimizing the amount of travel for students. The district's transportation policy was distributed to task force members. Currently Minnesota law requires that districts transport students who live two or more miles away from the school they are attending. The district continues to transport students who live one mile from the building they attend. The district also provides transportation for students who need to cross hazardous crossings. Highway 75 / Eighth Street is considered a hazardous crossing.

Effectiveness as it relates to the attendance areas means that a diverse mix of students is attending each of the three elementary schools. Decisions need to be made about how ethnicity and free / reduced meal status are considered when looking at the attendance areas. Dan Bacon provided two maps showing the families receiving free or reduced-price meals in the district and in the city. The city map shows areas of concentration where families receiving free or reduced-price meals live. Equity refers to having three equitable elementary schools. Regardless of where a person lives the same education opportunities will be available.

Kovash provided information related to the goal of future growth. The projections information was calculated in three different ways: weighted formula, average formula, and no yearly decline. The chart Kovash provided gives an idea of approximately how many students would be attending each elementary school based on the projections.

Jeff Schaumann provided brief information about the city growth. Current areas of growth are on the east side by the Meadows, in the Village Green area, and by the new elementary school. The city is in the middle of a comprehensive planning process. Currently the city has experienced an increase in building permits. However, it is hard to know whether the increase means an increase in student population.

Tim Magnusson shared information that some of the farmsteads in the county are being sold to younger people, while the farmers are moving into the city. County growth is dependent on sewers so there aren't many multi-lot areas. There has been growth in the Oakport area and the potential for additional growth is there. Oakport has city services and will be a part of the city in 2015.

Other Information Needs

Task force members discussed other information they will need as they consider the attendance areas. There was discussion that the attendance areas should be drawn so they remain in place as long as possible.

Task force members asked for information about the students who currently reside in each boundary and where they actually attend. There was discussion about what data can help project future growth. The city has projections, but they may change with the current process underway. Lynne Kovash indicated that she has the census information for children ages 0-5 who are currently in the school district. Dan Bacon was asked to provide a few scenarios for attendance areas. There was a question about getting additional information about where the students in the immersion program live.

Establish Meeting Schedule

The next meeting will be Thursday, Nov. 6. Meetings will be kept to about an hour and a half. A room will be scheduled for the meeting and a reminder sent out to the task force members.