Board to decide district boundaries

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The Kalispell Public Schools board of trustees is expected to vote Tuesday, Jan. 9, on a sixth option for redrawing the district’s elementary boundaries.

The board has spent several months getting public feedback to determine the best option for boundaries that would reduce overcrowding and plan for enrollment growth. The district is revising boundary lines in order to add Jeannette Rankin Elementary, the district’s sixth elementary school currently under construction on Airport Road.

Jan. 9 was the target date set for a final decision on district boundaries.

During three community forums held in October 2017, people were invited to rank their preferred choices out of four options. That process yielded a fifth option — Option E — outlining how elementary boundary lines could be redrawn. Boundaries have been defined largely along major geographical features such as roads or railroad tracks.

At the Dec. 12 board meeting, yet another option surfaced, and Option E was turned into Option E5.0, according to board minutes. At tonight’s meeting the board will consider that slightly altered option, now referred to as Option F.

There was some concern that the number of students projected to begin at Rankin Elementary, 85 to 86 percent of capacity, would bring the school too close to 100 percent capacity right away, according to the Dec. 12 board minutes.

Kalispell Public Schools Superintendent Mark Flatau said the latest option included a number of tweaks to reduce the Rankin start-up capacity from about 86 to 82 percent. The minor adjustments affected the boundaries for all of Kalispell’s elementary schools.

“If you tweak one you tweak them all,” Flatau said.

The Northridge and Empire Loop are the most challenging areas, Flatau acknowledged. “One school can’t handle all the kids,” he said, “so we tried to get creative on how to adjust” those boundaries.

A grandfathering form will be available for families who choose to request to keep their child in their current school for a period of one year, he said. It’s aimed at extenuating circumstances, such as a child who started kindergarten in one district and has only one year left at that school.

A map of the latest proposed boundaries is posted on the district website.

In new business at tonight’s meeting, the board will vote on the proposed school mascot for Rankin Elementary — the Rankin Raptors, which would feature a dinosaur sporting proposed school colors purple and silver/white.

The board also will vote on the proposed name for the road on the Rankin Elementary school site. Doug Wise, a former landowner of the school property, was a top name submitted, according to a board agenda report. The district has proposed naming the road Wise Way.

The board meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Kalispell Middle School Library Media Center, 205 Northwest Lane in Kalispell.

Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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