Parents discuss boundary concerns with administration

Image: Walking access — On the east side of the new Smithfield elementary, there are no roads or walking paths. Access is only from 100 North or from Saddleback Road.

Walking access — On the east side of the new Smithfield elementary, there are no roads or walking paths. Access is only from 100 North or from Saddleback Road. (Dave South)

Superintendent Steve Norton began Tuesday evening with an explanation of how the district goes about setting boundaries. “The first thing you need to understand is we are a district that does not have neighborhood schools,” said Dr. Norton to the roughly forty attending the public meeting over proposed boundaries for five north Cache elementary schools. “We have schools located in some neighborhoods, but we are a community of so many different communities that we can’t have a school in every neighborhood.”

[Ed. Note: To see the proposed boundaries read Boundary meetings set for north Cache elementary schools or visit the boundaries section on the CCSD website]

“We are very careful where we place new schools,” Norton continued. For people who live near a school, they do try to accommodate them. “You ought to be able to go to a school you can see.”

“We try to use natural boundaries,” he added. “In Smithfield you have the golf course and you have Smithfield Canyon. You will that we used those as a natural boundary.”

He also said they try to match the social, economic and racial mix of each school to match the community it’s located in. And they tried to avoid having the students cross the railroad or major highways — if possible.

Norton then presented two options the district was considering. The main difference between the two is where the boundaries crossed Hyde Park.

As parents, administrators, and citizens discussed the issues over the boundaries, several concerns emerged.

Secondary school boundaries

“I would like to see [the district] move the secondary school boundaries so they match the primary school boundaries,” said Doug Austin. He said there will be 15 students in 2012 who will be sent to White Pines from Sunrise Elementary while over 100 will be sent to Cedar Ridge.

“We talked about transitions last meeting, about being so difficult,” Austin continued. “How difficult is it for those 15 kids who are being sent by themselves to a news school as opposed to the hundred kids who are sent as a group down to Cedar Ridge. Like 9 out of 10 of [their] friends will be going to one school and [they] will be going to the other one.”

Norton said that they will definitely look into how the boundary changes affect the secondary schools. They will first work to set the elementary school boundaries and then see what adjustments can be made to accommodate the transition to secondary schools.

Walking path to new school

“I want to see a road or something through 2nd North,” said Tori who’s child will attend the new school under construction in Smithfield. She said that in order to walk to the new school her child will have to walk down 100 North. “This is a very busy road and [Saddleback Road] is a very long country road. It goes clear around a dairy and it’s just huge. We need some way to get to the school from the [east] side.”

This concern was shared by several parents attending the meeting. Norton said they would like to sit down with the city leaders to discuss possible access in the future and believed that it was a shared concern with the city.

Fringe areas along the boundary

Several parents discussed with the administration various problems along the boundary edge. For example, the boundary cutting through a neighborhood or across ward boundaries. They pointed out that a small change in the proposed boundary might only move three or four students from one school to the other but would allow them to stay with their friends in their neighborhood or church.

Wayne Reese, CCSD Director of Transportation, invited parents to come by his office to discuss possible adjustments to the boundary and see how it would affect school populations and neighborhoods.

School choice

And the last major concern voiced during the meeting was where the boundary changes cannot accommodate every situation, what should the parent do. Kim, for example, has a child will be in 5th grade next year. “My child is in Hyde Park where the boundary — either way — goes to Summit,” said Kim. With only one year in grade school, does she send her child to Summit or ask the district to let them stay at their current school just one more year.

The administration indicated that school choice is an option but would have to be considered in a case-by-case basis. Norton did say they will probably extend the deadline to ask for school choice to allow for the new boundaries and the special problems it may cause.

Second meeting scheduled

Overall the meeting tone was very light and everyone appeared to feel that their concerns were heard. A second public meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Greenville Elementary in North Logan. Everyone is invited to attend.