Creating the New Boundary Proposal
When a new school is added to the district, the process of creating new boundaries for the elementary schools often upsets long held traditions and norms. Yet the growth brought about as new homes spring up across the valley puts a heavy responsibility on the community. Additionally, putting 5th grade back in the elementary schools increases the number of elementary students by over 15%. School boundaries must be adjusted in a manner that would strengthen the educational experience for all students. These changes can mean temporary disruption to what has sometimes become the tradition in some neighborhoods.
The school board asked the committee to focus on five areas. Equitable demographics, growth potential, building capacity, neighborhoods, and transportation were each to be studied. These areas are not mutually exclusive and, on occasions, had to be weighed against each other. During the process of creating the proposed elementary boundaries, the committee used the current student K-5 count, not the actual count for next year. That number is not available at this time since Kindergarten numbers will not be known until those students register for school.
Adding a new school with a projected population of approximately 600 students obviously means that that many students would be moved from nearby schools. The movement of those students would create the requirement for additional changes as students from distant locations were assigned to different schools to balance student populations. And during all of this movement, the committee sought to keep track and maintain (as best they could) the population of the district-wide dual immersion program as well as maintain the socioeconomic balance to provide diversity in schools.
Some of the neighborhoods farthest removed from the schools (those neighborhoods whose students already were on buses) were proposed to be changed from one school to another. Those students were already on buses and could be delivered to a different elementary school which helped to balance student populations.
Law enforcement played a large role in this process, as they looked at safety factors in getting students to and from each school. They suggested (and WCSD leaders agreed) that students walking to school no longer be asked to cross Highway 40 (Heber Main Street). That means that the northwest portion of Heber (west of Main and north of Midway Lane) would move from J.R. Smith Elementary to Heber Valley Elementary. A new safe crossing zone would be established by Heber City to move the students across Midway Lane. The school district is currently looking at ways to create safe options for students getting to school.
It is proposed that Charleston and Casperville students would be bussed to Heber Valley Elementary instead of Midway Elementary. Wallsburg students, who have also been attending Midway Elementary, would be part of Heber Valley Elementary. The majority of the north-fields area (where few students live) would be part of the Heber Valley Elementary boundaries, but the eastern edge of that area (near Highway 40) would be bussed to J.R. Smith Elementary. Students from Todd Hollow, who at this time have been bussed to Midway Elementary, would be taken to J.R. Smith Elementary.
Students in the Red Ledges, Greener Hills, Big Pole, Little Pole, and Timberlakes areas would be bussed to J.R. Smith Elementary instead of Old Mill. Students north of Heber Center Street and east of Heber Main Street would all attend J.R. Smith Elementary.
The students in the Center Creek area, Daniel area and Wheeler Park area, would all attend the new elementary school.
The school board is still vitally interested in your perspective on these proposed changes. They will hold a public hearing held after the first of the year, but right now, your comments are most helpful if they are sent to email@example.com. Every email sent to that address is taken very seriously and adds to the total discussion of this process. While all patrons could speak directly to their board member, those same comments become much more powerful when they are sent to the firstname.lastname@example.org email address, as the entire committee and school board will be able to feel the weight of your input.
The middle school boundary proposal keeps elementary school boundaries intact as three elementaries (J.R. Smith, Old Mill, and the new elementary) will all attend the new middle school, which has a larger capacity. Midway and Heber Valley will attend Rocky Mountain Middle School.