The Salt Lake Board of Education is talking about boundary changes again - but this time it's for elementary schools in the city's northwest quadrant.
While the district as a whole has struggled with declining enrollments, schools in the city's northwest quadrant are overcrowded. Newman Elementary School, 1269 Colorado Street, is operating at 90 percent of building capacity - the highest percentage of any elementary school in the district.And the school goes to only the fifth grade. Overcrowding conditions at the school already prompted the board to move Newman's sixth-graders to Northwest Intermediate School two years ago.
But because the board and parents have wanted the sixth-graders returned to Newman, a citizens committee has been studying ways to accomplish that for the past nine months.
The committee reported on eight options that it has studied Tuesday night. Of those, the recommendation the committee labeled most likely involves a boundary change.
It would move 143 students to Meadowlark Elementary School, 491 Morton Dr., by moving the boundary west of Redwood from Seventh to 11th North. Under the scenario, 34 children and preschool siblings who live in the affected area but take Spanish immersion classes at Newman would be allowed to continue their classes.
If, after two years, Newman still needed additional space, the proposal would alter the Newman boundary on 13th West, north to DuPont Avenue, and east to the freeway. Students living in this area would be moved to Rose Park Elementary, 1130 Sterling.
Committee member Robert Lowe said the proposal has not been distributed to parents yet, but he predicted that those living in the Seventh to 11th North area would resist such a move.
Six years ago, students in this area attended Meadowlark but then were required to be bused to Newman. Lowe said feelings ran high during public meetings over that change and parents who have since accepted the change will resent having their children uprooted again.
But other options such a year-round school, moving special programs between area schools and voluntary enrollment switches did not seem as feasible as the boundary switch, said committee member Janine Bradbury.
Board members, who delayed any action until their Jan. 17 meeting, discussed the possibility of taking a definite proposal to the parents for their consideration.
But outgoing board President F. Keith Stepan said that could cause opposition similar to that which arose during the high school boundary dispute. "There's a danger if we take a cut-and-dried option and ask if they like what we've done. That's what we did last time."