Schools to make changes smooth

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Elementary staffs to help parents, students ease transition to new school

Denton school district officials said staffs at Paloma Creek and Providence elementary schools will be working together to create a smooth transition for students and families being rezoned to Providence Elementary next fall.

Prior to the Thanksgiving break, the school board approved a recommendation to rezone about 115 students from Paloma Creek Elementary to Providence Elementary, effective for the 2013-14 school year, said Sharon Cox, spokeswoman for the district.

Students impacted include those living within the southeast portion of the current Paloma Creek Elementary attendance zone. Also included in the boundary modification is the current southeast portion of the Savannah Elementary boundary, in which district officials have said no students currently reside.  

Students living south of U.S. Highway 380, east of Navo Road and Villa Paloma Boulevard to the district’s southern boundary at Lewisville Lake and west of the district’s east boundary near FM423, are being rezoned to Providence Elementary in the 2013-14 school year.

District officials have said the proposal will balance student populations, prepare for future growth and work with district constituents.

Denton elementary schools have a functional capacity of 740 students. Paloma Creek Elementary is already above that and projected to grow, according to district officials.

Students entering the fifth grade next school year at Paloma Creek Elementary and their siblings enrolled at the school will have the option to remain there, provided that they apply for an in-district transfer and furnish their own transportation, district officials have said.

The board’s vote to modify the elementary attendance zones passed 6-0 on Nov. 13.

School board members voted to approve the original proposal recommended by district officials after learning a second option to keep about 30 current students zoned to Paloma Creek Elementary would put the school at its functional capacity one year sooner than its 2015-16 projection date. 

Overcrowding at Paloma Creek Elementary was a concern for the board.

“It was a difficult decision, but we have to maintain the integrity of our academic programs, board President Mia Price said. “With the kindergarten classrooms, the first-grade classrooms overcrowded, classrooms are not optimal for educational learning for the educational experience.

“It’s unfair to the students and to the teachers, and it further taxes the infrastructure within the campus.”

Price said that while she knows the change is “emotionally difficult,” she has confidence Providence Elementary will create a warm and welcoming environment for its future students.

Being a fast-growth district, the redrawing of attendance boundaries is inevitable, Superintendent Jamie Wilson said. Anytime attendance zones are redrawn, it’s an emotional process, he said, and the district is looking to work with the community to “create the best learning environment possible.”

Sabrina Vallecillo, a mother of two children who attend Paloma Creek Elementary, came before the board Oct. 23 and requested members consider redrawing the attendance boundary lines to go down Villa Paloma Boulevard and cut across Salt Branch Road and keep a notched area with about 30 students zoned to Paloma Creek Elementary.

That option, which impacts students who live in an area with Navo Road bordering to the north and west, Salt Branch Road and Villa Paloma Boulevard to the east, and a clearing between West Rosson Road and Salt Branch Road to the south, was also brought to the board for consideration on Nov. 13. The board went with the original proposal.

The board’s vote was disappointing, Vallecillo said, but “it is what it is, and I’m sure they did what they felt was best for the students as a whole.”

It’s an emotional topic, she said. With the attendance boundaries modified for next school year, she said students will be bused to a campus farther away from home, and in some cases the decision will cause parents to change job schedules, but she’s staying positive about the situation.

“It’s upsetting that this part of the community was sent elsewhere, but we’ll see [how things go],” she said. “You’ve got to stay optimistic.”

Cox said Susan Bolte, principal at Providence Elementary, is expected to contact families impacted by the recent attendance boundary modification via letter and invite them to visit the campus at their convenience. Natalie Mead, principal at Paloma Creek Elementary, will also be communicating with families impacted by the rezoning, Cox said.

Beginning next semester, information about transportation, PTA and other school-related issues will be sent to families slated to begin school at Providence Elementary next fall.

Staffs at both schools are also working together to ensure learning is consistent at every grade level, to “make the transition as smooth as possible not only for the students but their families,” Cox said.

 

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is btabor@dentonrc.com.


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