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District expands boundary talks

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FARMINGTON — Redrawing school boundary lines for Farmington Public Schools is underway.

Fourth- and seventh-grade students will stay at their current schools regardless of future boundary changes. This is one new desired result outlined in the district’s Guiding Change Boundary Change document.

Jane Houska, district finance director, shared up update to the Farmington School Board meeting on April 9.

New school boundary changes will take effect in the fall of 2019. In the meantime, discussions also will cover bus transportation, new boundary lines and school start times.

Parents and stakeholders from the five elementary schools, two middle schools, Gateway Academy and Farmington High School are contributing to the community discussion and working document.

One new addition to the document is to expand or maximize walk boundaries for students.

Districtwide capacity

The need to redraw school boundaries is due to two issues:

  • some buildings are at capacity
  • district must be ready for student body growth

There exists an imbalance in student body enrollment per building capacities, Houska said.

Currently, Farmington elementary students can opt for bus transportation if they live beyond one mile away from school. Middle school students can take the bus if they live beyond two miles from school.

Now two elementary schools feed into each middle school, and the largest elementary school is split between the two middle schools.

The Guiding Change Boundary Change statement summarizes the current reality and desired results. These include keeping children in a neighborhood together as much as possible.

During the process, the district will strive to provide equitable spaces for necessary programs in each building that will maximize efficient use of space, building staff and transportation resources.

Any requests for in-district transfers and open enrollments for students will be sent back to designated attendance areas to start the process, according to the guiding change boundary document.

Board discussion

“The document is very clear so thank you,” said Steve Corraro, School Board member.

Chair Melissa Sauser asked if school start times would be part of this discussion.

“When we initially met with the charge that the board had given us to look at boundary changes, we had a good discussion with our group about should we keep them together or keep them separate,” Houska said.

Explaining there was some overlapping within the two groups, Houska said in the end the group decided to keep the two issues separate.

There will be another group bringing forward school start times, but it will have the same timeline as the boundary changes. There is some overlapping with boundary changes, start times and bus routing and bus schedules, said Houska.

Farmington School Board will move forward to approving some parts of the boundary changes during the April 23 board meeting.

The board will vote in December on school start times and make final decisions on the redrawing of school boundary lines.

“When we come back in the fall, we will start hitting it harder and we will bring in different proposals to you in November, and the board will make decisions in December,” Houska said.