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Facilities/Boundary Changes Q&A

Questions & Answers about the Facilities Realignment Process & Attendance Boundary Changes in District 191

Preguntas y respuestas sobre el Proceso de Reorganización de las Instalaciones en el Distrito 191

Su’aalaha iyo Jawaabaha khuseeya dib u Habeynta Hanaanka Qalabka Degmada 191

About attendance boundary changes, attending new schools

About program changes

About combining schools, closing facilities

 

About attendance boundary changes, attending new schools

How will attendance boundaries be redrawn?

With the closing of two elementary schools and one middle school, new attendance boundaries are needed. District 191 hasn't adjusted attendance boundaries for more than 20 years, despite significant changes to population and enrollment.

A Design Team of employees and community members developed two elementary attendance boundary scenarios after analyzing data about where current students live, student demographics, potential future residential development, transportation and other relevant information. Those scenarios were presented at six informational meetings in January, with attendees providing their feedback and suggestions.

PRESENTATION MATERIALS

In working to draw new attendance boundaries, the district uses numbered "areas," which are sections of the district that we don't want to split between two schools. It may be helpful to know which area you live in to see how your address fits into each scenario. You can find your area using this map, or enter your address in SchoolFinder and find your Area listed in the results. 

Two scenarios will be presented at each information and feedback meeting:

The Board of Education will be responsible for making the final decision on adopting new attendance boundaries.

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What's the tentative timeline for attendance boundary changes?
  • November-December: Design Team will begin analyzing data, including where current students live, student demographics, potential future developments that might affect enrollment, transportation consideration, etc.

  • December: If Board of Education takes action to close schools, then the Design Team will develop options for new attendance boundaries

  • January: Stakeholder input opportunities

  • Jan. 23: Present recommendation to Board of Education

  • February: Board takes action to adopt new Attendance Boundaries

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How can I get to know my child’s new school after attendance boundaries are announced?

Each elementary and middle school will offer welcoming events throughout the winter and spring so that students and families can get to know their new schools, meet staff members, and start building new relationships. Specific dates will be shared by the schools, posted on their websites and through social media. Families are always welcome to request a tour of a school by contacting the school office.

Additional opportunities to get to know new classmates and teachers will happen before the start of the 2020-21 school year, as well. Every effort will be made to ensure students who change schools will feel welcome and cared for at their new school. 

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How will attendance variances (students who attend schools other than their assigned school) be handled after attendance boundaries change?

There are three general options for the district when it comes to handling variances:

  • Suspend all variances for one year and require families to apply after next school year. This would mean all students would be required to attend their “home” school during the 2020-21 school year. The Board of Education would have to make this decision. 

  • Follow our current practices for variances. This would mean all current variances would continue next year, and any new variance requests would be granted on a space-available basis, with a lottery if there are more requests than space available.

  • Create a temporary plan for variances that acknowledges the needs of families during this transition. This might mean some schools would be over capacity temporarily, possibly leading to higher class sizes at those schools. 

Right now, no decision has been made. We are reviewing how different options would impact our schools and our families. Our promise is that we will communicate clearly with families so you know how you may be affected, what options are available, and what steps you may need to take. 

Feedback from parents during the attendance boundary process and other meetings is being considered as a plan is developed. 

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If I enroll my child in kindergarten now, what school will they be assigned to attend?
 
Your child will temporarily assigned to a school based on the current attendance boundaries in our system. You will be notified of your child's final school of attendance once new attendance boundaries are adopted.
 
 
If my student is assigned to a new school, will they still receive transportation to their new school?

The District provides transportation to and from school for elementary students who live more than one mile from their school and secondary (middle and high school) students who live more than 1.5 miles from their school. In addition, students who would have to cross a hazardous road or other feature in order to walk to school are also provided busing. The District 191 transportation policy (Policy #707) is available online. Exact walking zones will be established after new attendance boundaries are set.
 
 
Will bus rides be longer?

The length of a student’s bus ride may change next year depending on what school they attend, but in general, bus rides should not be greatly affected. The district is committed to keeping the longest rides no more than 50 minutes, and the average ride time will still be much less than that. 

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What will be the policy / guidelines for Open Enrollment?

Families who wish to open enroll from other districts into District 191 will be able to follow the same practices that are currently in place. 

About program changes

What will happen to the district’s magnet schools?

As District 191 proceeds with the Facilities Realignment Process, it will also be completing a review of the magnet programs that are currently offered, which include Harriet Bishop (Gifted & Talented), William Byrne (STEM) and Rahn (Arts & Technology). 

Because the recommendations for school closings will affect how District 191 elementary schools are organized, and because of the opportunity the process offers to review and improve all of our elementary schools, any typical events related to magnet schools - such as information nights and application deadlines - are currently delayed. 

More information regarding magnet programs will be available after the School Board has taken action on closing schools, attendance boundary changes and other related issues.

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How will elementary schools be improved moving forward?

Starting in 2020-21, all District 191 elementary schools will be “Pathways” schools. This model builds on the work we are already doing well in our elementary schools – including our successful new literacy curriculum, makerspaces at every school, and digital literacy curriculum – and it also aligns with the successful Pathways model at Burnsville High School that helps students find their passions, understand how classes and careers fit together, and prepare for success after graduation. 

As Pathways schools, every elementary site will have rich experiences and targeted exposure to all four Pathways:

  • Arts, Communications and Literacy

  • Design, Engineering and STEM

  • Health, Wellness and Social-Emotional Learning, and

  • Entrepreneurship.

That means every site will have STEM experiences, every site will have arts and technology experiences, and every school will provide enrichment for our gifted and talented students. No matter what site your children attend in District 191, they will be part of these rich Pathway experiences. 

You can learn more by attending informational meetings at each elementary school, or online at www.isd191.org/pathways

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Will every school have a pre-kindergarten option?

Yes. We are leaving space for at least one pre-kindergarten classroom at each elementary school. These early learning programs have been very successful, and having a program in the elementary school is a great way to build community. 

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About combining schools, closing facilities

Will closing schools mean classes will be more crowded?

No. District 191 will continue to set teacher-to-student ratios based on the annual budget process. Teachers at closed schools will be reassigned to other schools, just like students will be.

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How will having fewer schools affect class size?

The average class sizes across District 191 should remain fairly constant. However, there should be more balanced class sizes across the district and fewer “hot spots” with very large or very small classes. 

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Will closing sites make more families choose to leave District 191?

By keeping all of our schools open, District 191 is spending more money on utilities, staff and maintenance than is needed. When schools close, that money can be used to improve programs and services for students. Right now, our facilities are not efficient and that takes away from programming.  

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How will closing schools affect programming?

Having fewer schools with more students at each may provide several benefits for students. 

At the elementary level, because some schools have only two sections - meaning two 1st grade classes, two kindergarten classes, etc. - it’s difficult to have consistent class sizes, and some end up being larger than we would like. By consolidating elementary schools, we’ll be able to be more consistent in class sizes across the district.

At the middle school level, having two larger middle schools will make it easier to offer a more robust middle school model that lets teachers work more as teams to meet students’ needs.

At the very least, closing schools will help the district operate more efficiently, allowing more programming and services to be maintained. 

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How much money does District 191 expect to save by closing schools?

More precise estimates won’t be known until after the schools are selected, but the district anticipates reducing costs by between $2 million and $3 million. 

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Is the District selling Diamondhead Education Center?

Right now, the District is only gathering information related to the possibility of selling Diamondhead Education Center. With the focus being put toward closing schools and related changes, it is not being pursued at this time. Tentatively, the Board plans to continue the conversation about Diamondhead in January. 

Background: An external consultant recommended that District 191 sell Diamondhead Education Center as part of a study conducted in the spring of 2019. Diamondhead currently houses the Burnsville Senior Center, Community Education, administrative offices, early childhood classes, early childhood special education and several meeting and classrooms for professional development and community use.  

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What will happen to the school buildings that are closed?
 
No specific plans have been made for any school building that might be closed in 2020-21. At this time, the district does not plan to sell or demolish the buildings, as school space may be needed in the future if enrollment grows. 
 
 
I participated in a school community meeting after the recommendation was announced. What will happen to the cards that were turned in and posters that were created?
 
The district will provide answers to common questions through this Question and Answer page, as well as in information distributed to parents via email as the process continues forward. Comments and questions will also be shared with Board members.
 
When is the public hearing on the recommended school closures?
 
The District 191 Board of Education will hold a public hearing on Dec. 4, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. at Diamondhead Education Center.
 
 
How can I participate in the public hearing?

People who wish to speak at the meeting will be asked to sign up in advance. People will be able to sign up to speak between 4:30 and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Diamondhead (Enter Door #1 on the upper level). Speakers will be given a number based on when they sign up, and during the meeting, they will be called up to speak in that order. 

To try to ensure everyone who wishes to speak has an opportunity, speakers will be limited to no more than 3 minutes. Speakers who need an interpreter will be provided up to 5 minutes, but they will need to bring their own interpreter.

To make sure that participants’ thoughts and concerns are received in their entirety by the board, speakers are invited to prepare a written statement that summarizes your thoughts. Those statements may be submitted to the board if a speaker runs over their allotted time.

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Who conducted the facilities study and maybe the recommendation on which schools to close?
 
The comprehensive facilities study completed in the spring of 2019 was conducted by Dr. Roger Worner and Dr. Kay Worner, both of whom have experience as superintendents of Minnesota school districts and have conducted facilities studies for more than 400 school districts. Roger Worner also facilitated the public engagement process and developed the recommendations that were presented to the Board on Nov. 14.