Options could continue on school zoning | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Options could continue on school zoning

Joanna Welch, Appeal Staff Writer

Under a more lenient variance policy, Carson City pupils may have an option to continue to walk to school rather than being bused.

This policy is one of several alternatives that will be discussed tonight by Carson City School Board.

School board members voted in January to redraw the district into six zones. Each zone included an elementary school and was necessary to level out enrollment throughout the district, pare the district’s complex bus schedule and eliminate Bordewich-Bray Elementary School as the overflow school.

School district officials had proposed the rezoning be accompanied by a tough variance policy, which would uproot about 1,156 elementary students.

At the January meeting, dozens of parents and teachers appealed the rezoning plan, particularly families who lived within walking distance of one school but would be bused to another school.

To meet those concerns, the school district’s director of operations Mike Mitchell has created two “transitional areas” on the district’s map.

The two areas would allow pupils to remain at the school nearby their home or switch to the school they would attend under the rezoning.

In one area, east of Carson Street and West of Saliman Road, pupils are zoned to attend Bordewich-Bray Elementary School, but Mitchell is proposing they be given the option to remain at Fremont Elementary School.

The second transitional zone, which is east of Lompa Lane and west of Airport Road, would allow students who live close to Mark Twain Elementary School to remain at the school rather than being switched to Fremont.

“We’ve made an effort to soften the blow of zoning for those students who live very close to one school,” Carson City School District Superintendent Jim Parry said.

At the core of this latest draft of the variance policy is a “trade variance.”

The policy, which draws on several suggestions made by parents on Jan. 26, would be phased out over five years and apply to first through fourth graders.

Parents would submit a variance between Feb. 16. and April 16 to the principal of the school in their zone. Each school would hold a lottery to determine which requests are filled.

School principals would meet in May to compare the number of trade requests between the six schools and determine which trades can be granted at each grade level. Successful families will be notified by May 1.

The trade variance policy would give priority to students enrolled in special education programs that are offered in a specific school and to school district employees’ pupils.

“This would all happen before school starts, so your child won’t need to switch,” Parry said.

Families affected with the trade variance policy would get a second shot under the regular variance policy.

Under this option, students would be several weeks into the school year before they could switch. However applications would be denied if the school is at 90 percent capacity.

Under both variance policies, parents would be responsible for getting their children to school.

Another complaint from parents was shifting from Fremont because it’s the only school operating on a year-round calendar.

At the request of families, district officials have drafted a policy that would require 25 percent of parents and teachers support a petition by Thanksgiving. A vote to switch either from or to a year-round calendar would require 66 percent support from both parents and teachers. If approved the calendar would be adopted for three years.

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