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Our View: Board should work with neighbors

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opinion River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The juggling of students between the new River Crest Elementary and Rock Elementary has upset a number of people and we hope the School Board can find an agreeable solution.

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School boundary debates often do not affect large numbers of people, but those who are impacted are usually very emotional about the subject. That is the case in the current situation involving houses in neighborhoods known as Light House, Heritage Greens, Red Cedar Canyon and Windsor Heights.

Of course, we find it a bit baffling that River Crest Elementary hasn't been open even a year and all the enrollment projections, implemented just last summer, now appear to be invalid. And this is all happening in a year where there was very, very little home construction.

And, that is what makes this adjustment hard to swallow for those affected.

The district has to do what is right when it comes to distributing students to its six elementary schools, and the choices may not always be popular. The districtwide process was completed before the fall of the 2008-09 school year to get the new River Crest Elementary into the mix. But, in a year with virtually no new construction and slow home sales, the current boundary adjustments seem a bit extreme.

The district announced a plan which puts pressure on parents to make difficult decisions. Many of the students at River Crest attended Rock during the 2007-08 school year. They were moved to River Crest for the 2008-09 school year and now parents in the four neighborhoods face a tough decision.

The district plan announced within the past couple of weeks gives parents two options.

They can continue to send a child to River Crest, but any younger siblings entering school in the future will attend Rock.

The other option is to pull the child currently at River Crest, send him/her back to Rock (third switch in three years) and be at the same school with siblings who will attend in the future.

This is not a pretty choice for many families, families that were originally told they were living in an area that would be in the River Crest boundaries. Many of these parents may have moved into the area in order to be able to attend River Crest; others may have voted for the school because it was the school promised to their children if the referendum passed. Changing the River Crest/Rock boundaries this soon is inviting dissatisfaction.

The board listened to parents' concerns last week before its meeting. It sounds like the board will attempt to come up with something a bit more reasonable for parents in the affected neighborhood. We encourage the board to follow through with that effort.

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