Wayzata Public Schools is currently in the process of studying attendance areas throughout the school district to better align the number of students in each of its seven elementary schools and three middle schools with its facilities’ capacities over the coming years. Feedback from parents, staff and community members is an important part of the process.
An internal district committee made up of different staff started meeting this week (Oct. 8 and 9) to discuss the attendance area boundary process and public input process, said District Communications Director Amy Parnell.
The team is headed up by Jim Westrum, the district's director of finance and operations. Staff on the committee include those in transportation, building principals, administrative staff in the administration building, community education staff and Dennis Cheesebrow, a consultant with Teamworks International
Cheesebrow helped with the district's strategic roadmap process also, Parnell said.
The district is looking at attendance boundaries because of reaching capacity at its elementary school level. The work on attendance boundaries is dependent on how much capacity is available and there are a number of factors looked at determine the best process to use, Parnell said.
Parnell said the work at the high school level as far as determining capacity is a separate process and is dependent on total enrollment.
The staff committee will meet to develop options on how to best work on attendance boundaries, which will be presented to the School Board at its Monday, Oct. 22, work session. The public is welcome to attend board meetings and work sessions. Work sessions are normally held at 4 p.m. at the Education Service Center and regular meetings are usually held at 7 p.m. at Wayzata City Hall.
After the Oct. 22 work session the options presented to the board and input from the board will be put together to present to the public for input.
Public input meetings are all from 7 to 9 p.m. at the media center in Wayzata Central Middle School on Monday, Oct. 29, Tuesday, Oct. 30, and Monday, Nov. 5.
"We're also working on a way to get public input online and have an opportunity that way for people to submit feedback to us," Parnell said. "This will be a very public process; we want everyone's voice to be heard."
Those attending the public meetings will have an opportunity to not only hear the options and provide feedback, but also be in small groups to submit pros and cons about each option and make suggestions, address concerns and ask questions, Parnell said.
In previous discussions on the process of tackling attendance boundaries, district officials had mentioned "a representative committee."
"The district has decided to work on this in the way it is now after figuring out the best process to use," Parnell said.
Superintendent Chace Anderson has gone to parent community group meetings at each school to make sure volunteers and parents are aware this process is underway and everyone will get opportunities for providing feedback, she said.
The district has gone through an extensive study before taking a look at attendance boundary changes. There were three phases to the study that included studying alternative facilities to see what to update in buildings, looking at district residential growth and student enrollment growth and determining on creating additions to three of its elementary schools.
Phase three, adding onto Greenwood, Oakwood and Sunset Hill elementary schools, will be starting this fall. The design phase is happening now with those additions and work hopefully starting in the near future. Some work at the elementary level already happened at the beginning of this school year.
"Plymouth Creek Elementary School was the most crowded so we moved three sections of kindergarten out of there to the Central Middle School Family Learning Center for a year," Parnell said.
Another internal staff committee will soon start looking at Wayzata High School's capacity and enrollment growth and projections there. That committee is in the very beginning stages, Parnell said.