Thursday, February 26, 2015

Boundary Lines Changes Frequently Asked Questions

At the February 24, 2015, Board of Education meeting, the board took action to move forward with exploring changing the boundary lines for the School District of Janesville. Listed below you will find some frequently asked questions regarding the School District of Janesville’s Boundary Line changes.  It is important to note that listening sessions will be set up for public input before a final decision is made.

Boundary Lines Changes Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  What is the Boundary Line Committee recommending?

A.  The School District of Janesville’s Boundary Lines Committee is recommending dissolving the elementary option areas and moving to a pathway system for elementary, middle and high school.

Q.  What is an Option Area?

A.  Option areas are physical areas within the School District of Janesville attendance area that fall between defined elementary school boundary areas.  When an elementary child enrolls in the district or moves into an option area, the family completes an option placement form requesting enrollment at any elementary school in the district.  If the student’s enrollment would not cause the recommended administrative guideline enrollment for that student’s grade to be exceeded or create an enrollment imbalance, the application will be approved.  Students who reside in an option area who are approved for enrollment in a specific school may not reactivate the option alternative to change schools.  If they wish to transfer schools, they must apply for an Intra-District Transfer during the established time period.

Q.  What is a Pathway System?

A.  A pathway system provides a complete school assignment from 5-year old Kindergarten through grade 12 for students who are enrolling in the district or moving to a new address.  Physical boundary areas are created for each of the 12 elementary schools in our district and each elementary school is assigned a middle school and high school for the pathway system.  Four (4) elementary schools are assigned to each middle school and six (6) elementary schools are assigned to each high school. 

Q.  Why the recommended change? 

A.  The Boundary Lines Committee has been reviewing enrollment trends and other matrix items for the last five years to determine best way to utilize district resources.  There are many reasons why dissolving elementary option areas and moving to a pathway system has been proposed.
·      Greater balance among middle school enrollments.  Currently three elementary schools and parts of three other elementary schools are assigned Marshall Middle School which means they have a significantly larger student population than the other two middle schools.  By dividing the elementary schools evenly between the three middle schools enrollment population will be more evenly distributed and students will have more equitable access to services and extra-curricular activities.
·      Ability to provide newly enrolling families and families moving to the area with specific school assignments based on their home address.
·      Families purchasing and/or moving into new housing can pre-plan for the schools their children will be attending. This helps with childcare, pick-up, drop-off, etc.
·      By moving to the pathway system open enrollment students will not need to re-apply for open enrollment for the transition from elementary to middle school.
·      Continuity of education with peer groups.
·      Easier transitions to the next school level.
·      Ability to create long-term future enrollment projections.
·      Convenience/equity for currently enrolled Preschool 4 Janesville (P4J) families who live in option areas.

Q. Will my child have to leave their current school?

A.  No child will be forced to leave their current school due to this process if the proposal passes.  Students who wish to utilize the new boundary areas will be given the option to transfer to their home school area based on the new boundary lines with the highest priority for the 16-17 school year.  Transfer paperwork would need to be completed during the 16-17 transfer time period which runs from December 1-15, 2015.  Applications for elementary school students would be turned into the Administrative Services Department, 527 S. Franklin St.  Applications for middle and high school students would need to be turned into the principal’s office of the school their child is currently attending or the school their child seeks to transfers out of if they will moving school levels for the upcoming school year (i.e. 5th grade students who want a different middle school assignment would turn the form into the middle school their current elementary school is assigned via the pathway system).  Only high school students on the bus route that will be switching high school assignments due to this proposal will have the option to transfer for the 15-16 school year if they need to continue to utilize district transportation.  Families will be notified if their child falls within the affected transportation attendance area/grade levels for the 15-16 high school transfer option. 

Q.  Will the district be providing transportation?

A.  The district will continue to follow State Statute 121.54 and Board Policy 3710 and accompanying Administrative Regulations for transportation which require the district to provide transportation to elementary children who live more than 2 miles from their boundary line assigned elementary school or whose address falls within a hazardous zone area (an area identified by the City of Janesville/School District of Janesville and authorized by the State of Wisconsin that is legally identified as hazardous) and middle/high school students who reside outside the city limits or whose address falls within a hazardous zone.  The current proposal would not change any current elementary or middle school bus routes and would move one high school bus route that runs near the airport from Parker High School to Craig High School.  There would be no added routes based on this proposal.  If the proposal goes through, the district will work with the City of Janesville Transit Service to review the city’s extra service schedule and regular bus routes to see how they will work with the new boundary designations.  As is currently the case, students who utilize city transit services would be responsible for payment of their own transportation or qualify for assistance through already established programs.

Q.  Is this a done deal?

A.  No.  There are several steps that still need to be followed before a final decision will be made.  See the information below regarding the timeline.

Q.  Will I have an opportunity to provide my views/input about this proposal?

A.  Yes.  Three community forum meetings will be set up – one at each middle school.  These meetings will be held in early March for community members to receive more detailed information and to bring their questions, input and/or suggestions to the attention of the Boundary Line Committee members, Board of Education and district staff.  Dates and times will be sent out via the Infinite Campus messenger service, as a press release and posted to the district website when they are finalized.  The School District of Janesville will also be setting up a boundary line e-mail address that will be identified on the district website and provided in the press release and Infinite campus messages for those people who are not able to attend the Community Forum’s and wish to provide feedback/comments.

Q.  What is the timeline?

A.  The recommendation went to the Finance, Building, and Grounds Committee on February 17, 2015, for approval and was approved to move on to the full Board of Education.

 The full board reviewed the proposal on February 24, 2015. The board did not make a final decision at this time. They simply voted to move the process forward. 

Because the Board chose to move the process forward, there will be a series of Community Forum sessions held at each middle school to obtain feedback during late February or early March. The public will receive information with the dates and times once they are set through a Press Release, Infinite Campus general message and via the district website.

The goal is to have the Finance, Building, and Grounds Committee make a final recommendation to the Board of Education at their March 17, 2015, meeting.  April 14, 2015, will be the date of the final decision by the Board.

Q. When will it take affect?

A.  If the proposal is approved on April 14, 2015, the new boundary lines and pathway system will take affect starting July 1, 2015 for new students to the district or students whose address changes after that date and they would like to go to the new attendance area school.  The pathway system for the transition to Kindergarten from P4J, 5th to 6th grade and 8th to 9th grade would take affect for the 16-17 school year. 

Q.  What if I want to transfer my student?

A.  December 1-15, 2015, students who wish to switch schools for the 2016-2017 school year to their newly defined boundary area will be allowed to complete a request for school transfer for the 2016-2017 school year. Elementary transfer forms need to be submitted to the Administrative Services Office, 527 S. Franklin Street, and middle and high school transfer forms need to be turned in to the school the student is seeking to transfer out of.  Incoming Kindergarten transfer forms need to be submitted during the two week Kindergarten enrollment period – the first two weeks in December. Families who submit their applications during the required timeframe will have official notice of placement mailed out to them by January 15, 2016.

Q.  Can students only transfer once?

A.  Students will continue to have the option to request a school transfer for the upcoming school year during the December 1-15 transfer time frame each year.  Decisions regarding approval of transfer requests will be made by administration based on criteria established per Board Policy 5130 and Administrative Regulation 5130.1.

Q.  Where can I go to find out more information?

A.  Information from recent Boundary Line Committee meetings and Finance, Buildings & Grounds meetings will be available on the district website.  The proposal was presented to the Board of Education on February 24, 2015, at the Educational Services Center and is available to watch via the district webpage.  Community Forum sessions will be set up and held at all three middle schools to provide additional information and to solicit community feedback.

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