Implementing Policy 5001: ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS AND ATTENDANCE ZONES
Board Policy 5001 (adopted March 24, 2015) requires the Superintendent of Schools to establish regulations under which assignment of students in dedicated attendance zones and in flexible attendance zones (hereafter referred to primarily as “flex zones”) shall be implemented and monitored. The policy states that the regulations may provide for a flex zone phase-in period, a voluntary transfer plan, and an enrollment management plan. The goal is to promote class size balance by grade level across the district and optimum use of the district’s staff and facilities. This regulation establishes the procedures authorized by Policy 5001.
SCHOOL ASSIGNMENT OF ELEMENTARY STUDENTS
The district has a longstanding history and strong commitment to neighborhood elementary schools. Elementary school assignments are based on a student’s residence.
Student assignments are made by the Director of Student and Staff Support Services, working in conjunction with the District Registrar, school principals, and other personnel as needed.
Exceptions to the assignment of elementary students based on their residence in specific circumstances are outlined in these regulations. (See “Elementary Class Size Management Plan” and “Voluntary Transfer Program.”)
Dedicated and flexible attendance zones
For the purposes of elementary school assignments, students either live in a dedicated attendance zone or a flexible attendance zone (“flex zone”). Dedicated attendance zones are geographic areas for which there is one school of attendance. Flex zones are geographic areas for which there are two or more schools of potential assignment. Flex zones were established to provide flexibility in the assignment of elementary students to promote class size balance across the schools.
A map and street listing of all elementary attendance zones, including flex zones, shall be publicly available on the district website and in the Registrar’s Office at the district offices, 1239 Van Antwerp Road.
Flex zone procedures and phase-in period
The flex zones are being phased in with each entering kindergarten cohort, beginning with the class entering in September 2015.
Kindergarten Registration Process
With the establishment of flex zones, the district will utilize a centralized kindergarten registration process, beginning with registration that takes place during the 2015-16 school year for the following September. As part of this process, the families of all kindergarten students who live in flex zones will be provided with the ability to state a school of preference.
The assignment of kindergarten students who live in a flex zone is made on the basis of balancing class sizes across the district’s elementary schools. When sufficient balance cannot be realized by accommodating family preferences, factors that will be considered in placing students include information provided by families to support their preference, special circumstances, geography and neighborhood continuity, and transportation.
The kindergarten registration and screening process takes place throughout the winter and spring. Due to the unpredictability of kindergarten enrollment, along with the use of flex zones to balance class sizes, kindergarten sectioning will take place over the summer. Kindergarten students who live in flex zones will receive their school building assignments on or about August 1.
Continuity for Families: Siblings
When students with older sibling(s) enter elementary school, they will will attend the same elementary school as their sibling(s) as long as an older sibling will remain at that school (i.e. has not moved on to sixth grade) when the younger child begins.
Family Preference for New Registrants
When new registrants in grades K-5 move into a flex zone, they will be provided an opportunity to state preference from among the schools designated for that zone. Family preference will be granted on a space available basis. Because the flex zones are being phased-in it is understood that they may have more limited applicability in those grade level cohorts that entered kindergarten prior to September 2015. (See “Elementary Class Size Management Plan” below.)
Class-size targets and guidelines
Elementary class sectioning will be based on grade level class size targets and guidelines, as defined and enumerated below.
Grade level class size target: A grade level class size target is the number of students assigned to a section to achieve an optimal class size for a particular grade. Class size targets may increase gradually each year from kindergarten to fifth grade.
Grade level class size guideline: A grade level class size guideline is the upper limit on the number of students assigned to a section for a particular grade level. Class size guidelines may increase gradually each year from kindergarten to fifth grade. A guideline may be exceeded by the superintendent under extenuating circumstances, with notice provided to the board.
Grade Level Class Size Guidelines and Targets
(Elementary Class Size Management Plan, Adopted May 26, 2015)
Annual determination of elementary class sectioning
Each year on or about May 1, the district will determine the tentative number of sections needed for grades 1 through 5 for the subsequent year. Students entering grades 1 through 5 receive their class assignments for the next year on or about the last day of school. Due to the unpredictability of kindergarten enrollment, along with the use of flex zones to balance class sizes, kindergarten sectioning will take place over the summer. Families with children entering kindergarten who live in flex zones will receive their child’s school building assignment on or about August 1. Kindergarten classroom teacher assignments take place subsequent to the school assignments of students who live in flex zones.
Elementary Class Size Management Plan
After elementary class size and sectioning is determined for each grade level, the assignment of new students will be determined by the following terms of the Elementary Class Size Management Plan:
1. New students will be assigned to a school that serves their residence on a space available basis.
a. Students who move into a dedicated attendance zone will be assigned to the designated school for that zone if there is space available in their grade level.
b. Students who move into a flexible attendance zone will be assigned to one of the designated flex zone schools for that zone if there is space available in their grade level.
2. When space is not available under paragraphs 1.a or 1.b above, a new student will be placed in an alternate elementary school with lower enrollment in the student’s grade level. When a new student is placed in an alternate school, siblings of the student will also be permitted to attend the same school on space available basis.
3. When space becomes available during the school year at a school which serves their residence under paragraphs 1.a or 1.b above, whichever is applicable, parents will be given the option of transferring their child to the school where an opening has occurred. If the parent elects not to transfer their child to the school where there is an opening, the student will remain in the same position on the waiting list. The transfer out of the alternative school will be given the highest priority for the following September.
4. The parents of students who are placed in an alternate elementary school may elect to have their children remain in that school through fifth grade.
Voluntary Transfer Program
1. The district at its discretion may from time to time activate the Voluntary Transfer Program. Through this program, parents with students at a particular grade level, with class sizes that are at or approaching the district guideline, will be notified about the option to voluntarily transfer their children to other specified schools that have space available at that grade level.
2. Students who have been placed in an alternate school (see paragraph 2 above, “Elementary Class Size Management Plan”) will be given priority status in the Voluntary Transfer Program.
3. Students who are transferred under the Voluntary Transfer program from any elementary school to another elementary school will remain in that school through fifth grade.
Middle school assignment for certain students
Middle school attendance is based on the following elementary feeder school pattern in the district:
Iroquois: Birchwood, Glencliff, Rosendale
Van Antwerp: Craig, Hillside
Parents of fifth grade students who have been voluntarily transferred to another school, or who have been placed in an alternate school, will be given their choice of middle school assignment. However, when the elementary school they attend for fifth grade feeds into the same middle school that is designated for their residence, they will attend that middle school.
Transparency: Public Availability of Elementary Class Section Data and Attendance Zone Information
Monthly enrollment reports, including the number of students in each elementary class section, are provided to the Board of Education and published for the community. Each year, the September or October report includes information about how the flex zones affected kindergarten class sizes in the district.
To facilitate the appropriate placement of students, updated enrollment data will be provided to the superintendent, assistant superintendent, elementary principals and the Transportation Department as needed.
Process to Change Attendance Zone Boundaries
Board Policy 5001 provides that changes in the boundaries of the attendance zones, including flexible attendance boundaries, shall be by resolution of the Board of Education at the recommendation of the Superintendent of Schools. Such a resolution shall be preceded by a public presentation of proposed changes. To the extent practical, changes to attendance zones should be decided in advance of the kindergarten registration process.
Promulgated by Superintendent of Schools: May 26, 2015; Revised Jan. 7, 2019