After months of planning and public forums, the Millard school board approved new attendance boundaries, beginning with the 2014-15 school year, by a 6-0 vote Monday.
The boundary changes come with both a grandfather clause and a sibling rule, both intended to minimize disruptions to families while creating enough student movement to ease concerns about crowding.
Under grandfathering, all current middle-school students and fifth-graders will have the option to remain on their current high school track. Elementary students will be allowed to finish in their current building, and younger siblings can stay in the same school.
Superintendent Keith Lutz said the plan was basically unchanged from what was recommended by a citizens committee. The district gathered input on the plan, which was strongly criticized by some parents in a series of community meetings. Then the grandfathering and sibling provisions were added.
“We tried to go down as far as we could to be as family-friendly as we could,” Lutz said. “The bottom line is somebody had to move.”
The plan affects all schools except Reagan Elementary, which has experienced severe overcrowding. Separate, less-flexible rules will govern attendance there.
The proposed boundary changes are the most significant since Millard West High School opened in 1995. Lutz noted that 30 new subdivisions have opened in the area since then, and the district has twice expanded Millard West.
Not everyone, however, was happy with the changes, even with the added provisions.
Nine people — mostly residents of the Millard Park South neighborhood — spoke against the changes Monday.
Under the new boundaries, said John Lesley, a father of three, residents will have to drive east from the westward-oriented neighborhood, traveling farther and through more traffic. Residents of the neighboring Millard Park subdivision, northeast of Millard Park South, will drive west to get to their schools, Lesley said.
“This doesn't make sense for Millard Park South,” he said.
District officials said after the meeting that they drew the line to make school numbers work. Millard Park South has more younger children than Millard Park.
Board member Dave Anderson said he was surprised the district was able to take its accommodations as far as it did.
The board's job is to ensure that students get a quality education and to use tax dollars efficiently, Anderson said. Therefore the district must use the building capacity it has, he said.
“It doesn't matter which building you're in,” he said. “Your kid has the same chance to succeed and reach their full capacity.”
District officials have said they have to adjust boundaries at the elementary, middle and high school levels to control overcrowding.
That includes shrinking the attendance boundaries of Millard West, shifting some neighborhoods in the Millard West attendance area to Millard North and Millard South.
A consultant earlier this year projected continued rising enrollment in the southwestern and western parts of the district, but generally flat and spotty growth in the eastern reaches.
One issue still unresolved is how busing will work under the new boundaries. Lutz said the district will address that question in January.
The district has launched a school-finder feature on its website so parents can see how the proposed attendance area changes will affect them. Users type in an address and get a list of the schools their children would attend from elementary through high school.