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WPUSD redraws elementary school boundaries

By: Cheri March The News Messenger
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School district board members adopted controversial new attendance boundaries for First Street and Creekside Oaks elementary schools on Tuesday. Though the boundary change was considered at a March 18 meeting, Western Placer Unified School District trustees decided to develop new alternatives after several parents protested the original proposal. Under last week's approved alteration, First Street's borders will extend from O Street to R Street between Moore and Nicolaus roads, and to the south side of First Street to Joiner Parkway. Students who fall in the new boundaries but who will be in fourth or fifth grade at Creekside Oaks next year will continue to attend Creekside Oaks, as will their siblings if already enrolled. The district's first proposal did not grandfather in any siblings. Allowing some siblings to stay reduces students affected by the change from 2.46 percent to 1.95 percent, said Mary Boyle, assistant superintendent of educational services. First Street Elementary currently serves more than 300 students on intra-district transfer for English Learner programs. But a recent state audit recommended the district mainstream its English Learner students into their schools of attendance. Only 128 students at First Street attend within their drawn boundaries, which shrank after Foskett Ranch Elementary opened. Redrawing the lines will allow the district to include more students and relieve overcrowding at Creekside Oaks. Joel Williams, a teacher and parent, thanked the district for considering more options, but maintained that all siblings should be grandfathered. Even if you do apply a cut-off date for kids, you still break up families in the long run, he said. I hate to see us apply a real concrete boundary number and not accept families. Christina Van Vliet requested that all currently enrolled kids stay in their current school. With one daughter already a fifth-grader, and another in kindergarten, she missed the cut-off. All my daughters have already gone to Creekside Oaks, she said. At least keep the students currently attending. But trustee Paul Long said the district had to draw the line. You have to have a cut somewhere. You just have to, Long said. While border changes are unpopular, the issues are much greater. We're adopting fourth- and fifth-graders at the school, plus siblings. No other ones, no embryos. Earlier in the meeting, Superintendent Scott Leaman warned of troubles with grandfathering certain students. It gets very complex, he said. You could get a situation where one student is attending and a next-door neighbor says, ˜They're attending this school. Why can't I?' Word does get around.