LWSD considers boundary revisions

LAKEWOOD — The decision as to whether Lakewood School District should divide its three elementary-level schools into three kindergarten through fifth-grade schools could come to a vote as early as Feb. 3.

During a Jan. 13 Lakewood School Board special study session, Board members received a preliminary recommendation from the district’s Boundary Task Force.

That recommendation was to re-draw district boundaries into three separate sections — one for each newly formed K-5 school.

Currently, Lakewood School District students either attend Lakewood Elementary School from kindergarten through second grade and English Crossing from third through fifth grade, or they go to Cougar Creek Elementary School from kindergarten through fifth grade.

“Academics is the driving factor,” said task force chair Michael Mack, who is also the executive director of human resources and administrative services within the district, in an interview. “If we had three regular elementary schools like most districts, we wouldn’t be doing that (change). We’re trying to limit the number of transitions students have.”

During the study session, Mack handed out to the Board the committee’s most current boundary revision map.

Divided into three sections instead of the current two, the district’s new boundary lines would place approximately 330 students in each K-5 building.

Just how the district would determine which group of students would attend which school has not been determined, but students who currently attend Cougar Creek would not relocate to other schools, Mack said.

New school names were not part of the boundary recommendation, he added.

The proposed boundary revisions could be approved during the Board’s first meeting in February.

The new boundaries would have no effect on middle- and high-school students who would continue to attend Lakewood Middle School and Lakewood High School.

The district has been looking into re-drawing its boundaries since 2002 when a previous committee was tasked with investigating the idea.

Mack said the more recent task force took into consideration a number of factors when determining the potential boundaries — from socioeconomic status of families to previous enrollment numbers from the district.

Keeping neighborhoods in tact, having minimal budget impacts and balancing school enrollment were also part of the task force’s priorities, he said.

“It was a committee-wide effort,” Mack told the Board. “It was hard work. We didn’t want to have a have-and-have-not school.”

Mack said the task force also looked at the district’s current facilities at the three schools and whether they could handle the revised school boundaries.

The recommendation in its current state was unanimously approved by all Task Force members during their meeting Jan. 11, Mack said.

If approved by the Board, the new boundaries could go into effect during the 2010-11 school year, but Mack said that could change depending on what the Board decides.

Twenty-two members served on the Task Force committee, including a number of staff, community members and administrators.

“A few people expressed concern during the process,” said Jill Leonard, Board member and committee observer. Leonard did not vote on any recommendations from the Task Force because of her role on the Board. “Once people realized we were doing it for the good of the kids, they changed their minds.”

Mack said after any decision is made regarding the change, the committee will hold a community forum to explain the potential impacts to families and students.

“It’s really focused on increasing student achievement,” he said. “The focus is how to give elementary students the very best opportunity to be successful.”

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