The Grade Blog

Tuesday, Dec 10 2013 09:01 PM

School districts vote to shift attendance boundaries

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    By Courtenay Edelhart / The Californian

    Berkshire Elementary School is Panama-Buena Vista Union School District's most overcrowded school with more than 1,000 students. Some other elementary schools in the district have half as many. The district has revised attendance boundaries in order to even out the distribution of students.

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BY COURTENAY EDELHART Californian staff writer cedelhart@bakersfield.com

Responding to growth and development, two of the region's largest school districts voted Tuesday night to revise their attendance boundaries.

The Bakersfield City School District is shifting students around to make way for next year's opening of two news schools. Fletcher Elementary School and Cato Middle School are scheduled to open on adjacent campuses in northeast Bakersfield in August.

The Panama-Buena Vista Union School District is trying to even out enrollment in a southwest Bakersfield district where some schools are overcrowded and others are underused.

BCSD serves about 29,750 students in central and east Bakersfield. Over the past three years, enrollment in the district has grown about 8 percent.

The school board voted 4-0 in favor of the boundary revisions.

In addition to the new schools, the vote means more students from elementary schools will be able to attend middle or junior high school together.

"There's a lot of effort that goes on to prepare for this day," Superintendent Dr. Robert J. Arias said afterward. "This is the kind of response you would hope for."

PBVUSD has 17,513 students, and expects an influx of still more as vast stretches of vacant land in the southwest are developed.

The board unanimously approved the so-called Growth-Attendance map, which combined elements of several previously proposed maps and achieved the highest number of goals the district had identified, including reducing overcrowding at most schools and balancing racial, ethnic and socio-eoconomic diversity.

"This map, this solution, took in the most parent feedback," said Superintendent Kevin Silberberg, who noted that the district had worked hard to incorporate public input.

He said the plan affects 6 percent of the district's students. The board had said it didn't want to disrupt more than 10 percent of students.

But some parents weren't happy. Several homeowners from the University Park neighborhood said they had purchased their homes specifically so their children could attend Stockdale Elementary School, only to find that now their families will be in the zone for McAuliffe Elementary School.

"Now we're going to have to go through the process of doing a transfer," said Brandon Stevens, 31, who has a 7-year-old daughter. "If that doesn't work, we will have to revisit."

The family might even consider moving, Stevens said.

This was Panama's second run at revising district boundaries. A similar effort last year was mothballed because parents complained it was rushed with inadequate time for public review and input.

Both districts held public hearings on the proposed boundaries all year, and posted maps and information about their respective plans online.

 

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