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Frequently Asked Questions: Proposed attendance areas, school start/end times and transition options

FAQs are based on Attendance Area Task Force’s intermediate proposal. Document last updated May 10, 2016.

Questions were received via email to Eastern Carver County Schools and from the April 6 listening sessions.

Table Of Contents:

Attendance Areas

Why are attendance areas proposed to change?

When will the proposed attendance areas go into effect?

Why doesn’t the district have one middle school for Chanhassen High School, one for
Chaska High School, and one middle school split between the two high schools?

Did the Attendance Area Task Force look at factors around race/ethnicity or families eligible for free or reduced-price lunch?

Why doesn’t my neighborhood go to Pioneer Ridge Middle School, we can see the school from our house?

Will families who are open enrolled in Eastern Carver County Schools from another school district be affected by an attendance area change?

Was each city that is part of Eastern Carver County Schools represented on the task force?

What’s going to happen in 5 to 7 years? Will attendance areas change again?

I thought East Union was going to close when the new elementary school was built. Why is it planned to stay open?

Repurpose Chaska Elem. for La Academia

What is La Academia?

Why was La Academia added to Eastern Carver County Schools?

Who attends La Academia?

Why does La Academia need to move into a school building?

Why was Chaska Elementary School proposed as the location for La Academia?

Were other schools considered besides Chaska Elementary?

During the 2015 referendum campaign, did the district communicate that a school would be repurposed for La Academia?

Transportation

        Why would the district provide transportation to grandfather high school students and not other 
        
grade levels?

Is the school district following the law for non-public school transportation by creating a bussing zone for Guardian Angels and St. Hubert’s schools?

What does it cost Eastern Carver County Schools to transport non-public school students?

Can a younger sibling ride the transfer bus to Chanhassen/Chaska High School starting in 2017?

Transition options (grandfathering, sibling preference, etc.)

        What is grandfathering?

What is sibling preference?

Where can I find a transfer request form?

I have a 9th grade student who will be allowed to stay at her current high school. What about her younger brother who is in 6th grade? Can he attend the same high school?

Which middle school students will have a grandfathering option under the intermediate proposal?

Start/End Times

        Why are school start and end times proposed to change?

Why were St. Hubert’s families not invited to be on the task force?

What is the rationale for changing St. Hubert’s start time?

Attendance areas

Why are attendance areas proposed to change?

Eastern Carver County Schools must ensure the same high-quality programs are available at every school. Balancing enrollments does this because it prevents schools from becoming overcrowded or under-utilized. Both of these situations reduce students' access to school resources and learning opportunities.

When will the proposed attendance areas go into effect?

If the School Board approves proposals for attendance areas, school start times and transition plans for families affected by a change in attendance area, they would be effective with the fall of 2017. A preliminary proposal was released on March 22 prior to April 6 listening sessions at Chaska and Chanhassen high schools. An intermediate proposal was released on May 5 prior to a May 10 listening session. The final proposal is scheduled to go to the School Board on May 12. The School Board meeting on May 26 is the board’s first opportunity to approve the proposals.

Why doesn’t the district have one middle school for Chanhassen High School, one for Chaska High School, and one middle school split between the two high schools?

Each middle school has a mix of students who then go on to Chaska or Chanhassen high school based on their elementary school. Before Chanhassen High School opened, district officials explored the option to create middle schools aligned with only one high school. They looked at other school districts that have this arrangement. This creates a different experience with the third middle school that is split. Those students reported it was more difficult in 9th grade to join peer groups that were established in the single track schools.

The Attendance Area Task Force is proposing to align tightly align each school with a set of elementary schools. This close to today’s current practice, but there are a few schools where some neighborhoods do not continue with the rest of the elementary school into Chanhassen or Chaska high school. That would change with this proposal and all elementary students would stay together through high school.

Eastern Carver County Schools is one district that serves four communities. One way we create unity as a district by providing students opportunities to make friends with students who live in our other cities. Furthermore, surveys of district residents repeatedly report that one of the highest priorities for the school district is to provide equal opportunities to all students regardless of where they live.

Did the Attendance Area Task Force look at factors around race/ethnicity or families eligible for free or reduced-price lunch?

Yes. The Task Force looked at a variety of factors including keeping neighborhoods together and trying to move as few students as possible. Balancing populations of students of color and of students from families eligible for free or reduced-price lunch were among the factors in the School Board’s charge statement to the task force.

Why doesn’t my neighborhood go to Pioneer Ridge Middle School, we can see the school from our house?

Middle schools are a feeder school model, tied to elementary school attendance areas. To create middle school boundaries that put every home in a school that is geographically closest to them would require moving hundreds of additional students. One of the criteria the School Board gave to the task force was to move as few students as possible.

Even supposing a complete attendance area restructuring, Eastern Carver County Schools still has three middle school buildings, two of which are on the same campus. With a district 84 miles in size, “neighborhood” middle schools are not feasible.

Will families who are open enrolled in Eastern Carver County Schools from another school district be affected by an attendance area change?

No. Eastern Carver County Schools will honor existing open enrollment agreements. Families that have open enrolled into Chaska Elementary, which is proposed to be repurposed in the 2017-18 school year, should contact the principal to discuss options.

Was each city that is part of Eastern Carver County Schools represented on the task force?

Yes. The task force is comprised of 40 members. City of residence is as follows:

Carver                 7 (17.5%)

Chanhassen           9 (22.5%)

Chaska                18 (45%)

Victoria               5 (12.5%)

Membership was consistent with the current rate of resident students attending Eastern Carver County Schools:

Carver                 11%

Chanhassen           24%

Chaska                51%

Victoria               14%

What’s going to happen in five to seven years? Will attendance areas change again?

Eastern Carver County Schools is a growing school district. Any school district that experiences significant changes to its housing stock has to modify school attendance areas. This prevents schools from becoming overcrowded or underutilized. Current attendance areas have lasted nearly eight years with minor adjustments.

If all of the homes are built based on today’s projections, it is likely the school district would need another elementary school after five to seven years. But that remains to be seen. School and district officials monitor enrollment annually and share that information with the School Board. In the future, the School Board will use actual enrollment numbers to determine whether attendance areas must be adjusted.

I thought East Union was going to close when the new elementary school was built. Why is it still planned to be open?

East Union will be needed as enrollment continues to grow. Based on a five-year projection, the new elementary school in Carver would be at capacity. This depends on how much actual single-family housing develops, but East Union will be needed to prevent overcrowding.

Repurposing Chaska Elementary for La Academia Two-Way Dual-Language Spanish Immersion

What is La Academia?

La Academia is Eastern Carver County Schools’ two-way, dual-language immersion school. It is a district-wide program, which means families must make a choice to enroll. “Two-way, dual-language” means native speakers of both Spanish and English learn a second language side-by-side. This is the preferred model to acquire a second language over single-language immersion because it offers direct experience with native speakers.

Why was La Academia added to Eastern Carver County Schools?

A survey of district parents in 2006 indicated demand for more second language education, with Spanish as the top choice. The school opened in 2012 with two classrooms each in kindergarten and first grade students. It grows by one grade level each year. Demand has been strong. La Academia added a classroom each to kindergarten and grade one in 2013. There is a waitlist for kindergarten and, in time, the school could grow to four classrooms across all grade levels.

Who attends La Academia?

Enrollment is spread evenly across Eastern Carver County Schools. Each elementary school attendance area has about six to eight percent of its students attending La Academia.

Why does La Academia need to move into a school building?

La Academia was placed in the Kindergarten Center building in 2012 with the intention of moving when the district built a new elementary school. The Kindergarten Center is a temporary location because it does not have a full gymnasium, full kitchen or ample outdoor space.  La Academia’s projected full size of three to four classrooms at each grade level will not fit in the Kindergarten Center building. Also, the Family Learning Center (early childhood programs) at Chaska High School must move into the current Kindergarten Center building to allow Chaska High School’s enrollment to increase.

 

Why is Chaska Elementary School proposed as the location for La Academia?

 

Were other schools considered besides Chaska Elementary?

Yes, all elementary buildings were considered by the Attendance Area Task Force. The Task Force narrowed options to Chaska and Jonathan elementary schools as both schools are centrally located.

Jonathan was ruled out for a few reasons: It has a walk zone and Chaska Elementary does not. Jonathan’s larger building size is not optimal for La Academia’s comparatively smaller size. Jonathan’s location can better serve areas of the district with housing growth. Should growth exceed projections, Jonathan is configured differently with flexible spaces that can handle a larger number of students.

During the 2015 referendum campaign, did the district communicate that a school would be repurposed for La Academia?

Yes. This information was included the district’s information campaign. It was noted in articles on the district’s referendum website, in public presentations by district officials and the Chaska Herald reported on it.

Transportation

Why would the district provide transportation to grandfather high school students and not other grade levels?

Is the school district following the law for non-public school transportation by creating a bussing zone for Guardian Angels and St. Hubert’s schools?

Yes. Eastern Carver County Schools can create a bussing zone for non-public schools in the same way it creates attendance areas for its public elementary schools. The public schools and the private, Catholic schools are treated in a like manner, which is what the law requires.

What does it cost Eastern Carver County Schools to transport non-public school students?

The district’s transportation contractors use about 30 buses to transport non-public students in the district, but those buses also serve public school students. The district estimates 10 additional buses are required to meet the transportation needs of non-public school students.

In the 2014-15 school year, the district received $334,241 in additional state revenue for transportation of non-public school students, or $381.55 per pupil. The 10 additional buses cost approximately $50,000 each, leaving a shortfall of about $165,759. Eastern Carver County Schools covers this shortfall out of its General Fund budget.

Can a younger sibling ride the transfer bus to Chanhassen/Chaska High School starting in 2017?

It may be possible, but the transfer bus is for 10th, 11th and 12th grade students in the fall of 2017. Those students have priority. If space is limited, it may be necessary to limit the transfer bus to only those students. The School Board must first approve the proposal. During the 2016-17 school year, high school and district leaders will determine the level of demand. Then they will be able to provide a more comprehensive answer to this question.

Transition options (grandfathering, sibling preference, etc.)

What is grandfathering?

Grandfathering essentially waives an attendance area change, allowing students to stay at a school in which they are currently enrolled and the school district provides transportation.

In the Task Force’s intermediate proposal, students in grades 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 would be grandfathered (these are students who are in 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th and 10th grades in the 2015-16 school year). The proposal does not provide any other grade levels with true grandfathering.

The option proposed for all other students in grades K through 5 in 2017 is a school transfer. This is the process the school district currently uses when a student wants to enroll in a school that is different from the student’s attendance area school. Special consideration would be given in 2017 to students in grades 5 (students in grade 3 in the 2015-16 school year). There also would be sibling preference for brothers/sisters who will be in the same school at the same time.

A school transfer requires families provide transportation to and from school. A school transfer application also must be approved. School administration review these requests to maintain class sizes. A request may be denied if a grade level, courses or school are full. If the proposal is approved, transfer requests for the 2017 school year would be due Jan. 16.

What is sibling preference?

When a family makes a request to transfer a student from one district school to another, school administration are more likely to grant that request if an older brother or sister already attends that school. All transfer requests, including ones with sibling preference, are considered based on class sizes and space in the school.

Examples of sibling preference are a 9th grade student with an 11th grade brother, a 6th grade student with an 8th grade sister and a kindergarten student with a 4th grade sister.

Where can I find a transfer request form?

You can find those forms in the Welcome Center section of the district website at the bottom of the page.

Can my student start at a school in 2016 instead of waiting until 2017 to change?

Yes. The new elementary school opens in 2017, so early entry is not possible there. If the School Board approves the proposal, the district will provide school transfer forms for the 2016 school year. School and district administration review these requests to maintain class sizes. Families must also provide transportation to and from school.

I have a 9th grade student who will be allowed to stay at her current high school. What about her younger brother who is in 6th grade? Can he attend the same high school?

Yes. Sibling preference applies to siblings who will be in the same school building at the same time.

Which middle school students will have a grandfathering option under the intermediate proposal?

E. Carver Co. Schools aligns middle schools by elementary boundaries. The following areas will have a middle school attendance area change in the fall of 2017::

Start/End Times

Why are start and end times proposed to change?

Adding an elementary school and changing attendance areas requires revised bus routes. This provides an opportunity to review the times that schools start and end. The Attendance Area Task Force looked at six criteria:

  1. No students picked up by a bus before 7 a.m.
  2. No schools starting later than 9:20 a.m.
  3. Look for efficiencies and cost savings in the transportation system
  4. Align with research indicating adolescents should start school later in the morning
  5. Maintain current length of school day wherever possible
  6. Ensure learning opportunities are equitable

Why were St. Hubert’s families not invited to be on the task force?

St. Hubert’s is a private school. The majority of the issues reviewed by previous and current attendance area task forces did not concern private, parochial or charter schools. Past experience indicates that private schools do not take an interest in the affairs of the public school district. Likewise, the school district does not get involved with non-public schools, except as required by state statutes such as reporting of data and providing certain services. When issues overlap between the public and private schools, the district works together with administration from the non-public schools to resolve them.

What is the rationale for changing St. Hubert’s start time?

With 20 schools currently in the district’s transportation system and three tiers of bus routes, some schools have to start earlier. The task force wanted to preserve the current length of the school day, start Eastern Carver County middle schools later (all three currently start at 7:30 a.m.), and prevent students from being at bus stops before 7 a.m. Making these adjustments affects other schools. The private, parochial and charter schools are routed with the public schools and treated the same. It is difficult to create a system that suits every school perfectly. The school district is required to offer transportation to non-public schools. Just like public schools, some schools will start later and others will start earlier.