Existing students won’t be reassigned to a new school under revised boundary plan
By Stephen Floyd, Ashland.news
The Ashland School District has backed off a plan compelling students to switch grade schools following public outcry against the proposal.
In an announcement Jan. 20, the district thanked the community for its feedback and said, in an update to the proposed policy, K-5 students within the boundary changes could voluntarily switch schools.
“Thank you to those of you who have provided feedback either electronically or by attending the open house last week,” said the district. “The feedback was extremely helpful in developing a policy that will meet the needs of our families. We have made substantial changes to our draft policy as a result.”
The revised policy would still require incoming kindergarteners and new students to the district to enroll according to the adjusted boundaries.
The district is hoping to equalize enrollment at Walker, Bellview and Helman elementary schools, which served an even number of students prior to 2019 but has since experienced a significant imbalance in enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Almeda Fire, new housing developments and shifts in state policy.
A committee of parents, teachers and administrators has been working with data consultants FLO Analytics since October, 2022, to set new school boundaries that would even out enrollment and account for project growth over the next decade.
An initial proposal for boundary adjustments was approved by the committee Dec. 13, 2022, which would have required current K-2 students to attend within the new boundaries next school year. The district began seeking public feedback and opposition was swift — and sometimes fierce — from parents who thought it would be unfair and damaging for their young kids to face more change when they are still trying to readjust after the adversity of the last three years.
One Helman parent, Nellie Abel, started an online petition that has since gathered 180 signatures. When Abel heard the district adjusted its policy proposal, she thanked fellow residents who voiced their opposition and said the efforts of advocates will now turn to the walkability of new boundaries and efficiency of bus routes.
“We are very appreciative to the school board for listening to and incorporating our feedback,” said Abel on NextDoor.com, encouraging residents to continue providing feedback through the committee’s online survey.
The district’s announcement said it is also focusing on the transportation of new students under the revised boundaries, including the potential costs of a new transportation plan.
“We are working hard to answer those questions as quickly as possible,” said the district.
The committee is scheduled to meet again Feb. 7 to continue discussing public feedback and will submit a report to Superintendent Samuel Bogdanove Feb. 14. The Ashland School District Board will then be presented with a recommended proposal Feb. 27.
Bogdanove is scheduled to offer further updates on the rebalancing process during the board’s Feb. 13 meeting.