Parents of nearly 150 students from Knollwood Heights Elementary in North Rapid will learn tonight if their children will be transferred to Canyon Lake Elementary on the west side of town when Rapid City Area Schools Board of Education meets.
Facing the unexpected increase of 200 students this school year, the district has struggled with classroom crowding at the elementary level. The elementary school with the most crowding is Knollwood with 645 students.
A plan to move some of those students to Canyon Lake Elementary next year was pitched to the public and parents in two public meetings in January. Canyon Lake Elementary is the least crowded of the district's schools with 279 students.
The boundary change is part of a broader plan for the 2013-2014 school year.
Parents voiced concerns at the January meetings about moving children 25 minutes across town for elementary school and then returning them to North Middle School when they reach sixth grade. Knollwood parent Phil Long said middle school can be a social "time bomb" and voiced concerns about interfering with the normal feeder school system.
According to the plan submitted for approval tonight, some of those concerns have been addressed.
Initially, the district planned to suspend a parent's ability to oppose the boundary change and remain at Knollwood. The new proposal will still allow parents who adamantly oppose the transfer to keep their children at Knollwood. And if a future boundary change affects the Knollwood-to-Canyon Lake transferred students, they will be given the chance to remain at Canyon Lake.
When students reach sixth grade, the transferred students at Canyon Lake will be given preference if they choose to open enroll in West Middle School with their Canyon Lake peers. Otherwise, those students would feed into North Middle School, located near Knollwood. This provision will only be possible if space is available at West.
At the meeting, the board will also review the executive team's "priority tasks for 2013." The four-page list includes planning for the possible loss of between 5 percent and 7 percent in federal funding for special education and Title 1 programs, which benefit economically disadvantaged students.
Dave Janak, business manager for the district, said if the debt ceiling isn't increased, the district will definitely see a reduction in that critical funding.
"Unless they come up with some different version, that's what's going to take place," he said. "I think everyone is of the opinion it's not going to get delayed again."
The district would lose about 5 percent of the $9 million a year in funding, which calculates to about $500,000, Janak said.
"We've got to come up with a strategy as to how to absorb that," he said.
Janak said despite that potential loss, the district isn't looking at making cuts to the general 2013-2014 budget as it has in past years.
"As far as 'Here's the list of stuff (to be cut),' we're not doing that this year," he said.
[This story reflects a correction. The cut in federal funding to the district would be about $500,000 a year.]