Archive for Thursday, October 4, 2007

District boundaries, transfers discussed

October 4, 2007

Baldwin School District patrons had their first chance to speak out about elementary school transfers, class sizes and boundary lines.

The two main points from Tuesday's meeting were parents want in-district transfers allowed and the boundary lines shouldn't be changed. A total of 16 parents attended the meeting that was held for the two elementary schools in town.

"I am pleased with the turn out we had tonight, as well as the input we got," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "We heard a lot of different ideas about how this affects a lot of different people. I think it's good to get that information. We appreciate the people coming out and hopefully we will get as good of a turn out at the other two schools."

After discussing the few issues at hand Tuesday, there was a consensus around the room that allowing students to transfer within the district isn't a problem.

Several parents spoke about reasons why their children are attending a different school than they should be attending. Those reasons included working in town, babysitter location or not wanting to move them to another school again.

"I'm a single mom and we live in the Marion Springs area," Amanda McCann said. "The children's babysitter was in Baldwin. It would be traumatic to move them to a new school during the middle of their time in elementary school. They have one year left at the (intermediate center), so moving them back to Marion Springs would be detrimental to them."

A couple of parents wanted to know how many students were transferred in town compared to how many were going out to the rural schools.

Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center Principal Tom Mundinger said 12 students are coming into his building, while nine are transferring out.

Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center Principal Deb Ehling-Gwin said eight students come into her building, but she wasn't sure how many left for the rural schools. Dorathy said the numbers are about even on how many are transferring in and out.

"I think this will be a tough issue for the (school) board to deal with and they need as much information as they can get," Dorathy said. "They need to understand all of the issues before they can make a decision."

Attendance boundary lines were briefly discussed at Tuesday's meeting. The overwhelming consensus was not to draw the boundary lines. BESPC parent Joanne Kite spoke out against redrawing the lines.

"I purposely built my house on the far east side of the district because I knew which school my children would attend," Kite said. "If the boundary lines were to be redrawn, I would be one very unhappy parent."

Other parents spoke out against redrawing the lines, because parents are transferring their children to other schools anyway. Instead, some parents suggested the school board make a policy maximizing class sizes, which might force students to stay at the building closest to their home.

At the end of the meeting, the parents also gave Dorathy and the two school board members, Bill Busby and Ruth Barkley, something to think about. They asked how this discussion might fit in with the facilities meetings, because the idea of building one large elementary school has been discussed.

Dorathy said the board will keep all of this in mind when it makes a decision on the boundary lines and in-district transfers.

"I think we are getting that this is a very complex issue," Dorathy said. "It's not easy to solve. There are a lot of factors involved in this."

The next public meeting will be at 7 tonight at Marion Springs Elementary School. Vinland Elementary School will host its meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

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