Boundary changes coming to 8 elementary schools

Washington County School Board office, St. George, Utah, undated | St George News

ST. GEORGE – The Washington County School District Board of Education Tuesday evening unanimously approved proposed boundary changes affecting several existing elementary schools and one new elementary school.

In a special public hearing held at the Washington County School District office, boundaries for Little Valley Elementary, Crimson View Elementary, Riverside Elementary, Horizon Elementary, Sandstone Elementary, Panorama Elementary, Washington Elementary and the new Majestic Fields Elementary schools were proposed and later approved in the meeting.

Maps of the new boundaries as presented in the meeting can be found here.

The changes were made in part because of the addition of Majestic Fields Elementary – set to open for the 2017-18 school year – and also in response to large amounts of growth, particularly in the southeastern part of the school district.

“A lot of growth in the Little Valley area and the Washington Fields area,” Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education Rex Wilkey said, “and our schools are getting overloaded in certain areas and other areas they were a little bit lower so we’ve had to make some adjustments.”

Recently the school district has seen growth that mirrors the kind of numbers it saw in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Superintendent Larry Bergeson said.

Since Oct. 1, 2016, there have been almost 500 new students, kindergarten to 12th grade, enrolled in the district, Bergeson said. And from Oct. 1, 2015, until now, almost 1,700 new students have entered the Washington County School District.

“So that gives you an indication as to the amount of growth,” Bergeson said.

In addition to Majestic Fields Elementary, two other schools are being built to accommodate growth in the Washington Fields and Little Valley areas – Crimson Middle School, set to open for the 2018-19 school year, and Crimson High School, set to open for the 2019-2020 school year.

New boundaries for the secondary schools are still being worked on, Wilkey said.

Response from parents over the proposed changes was mixed. While some parents were excited to see their children be put in boundaries that allowed them to be in the same school as their neighbors, others were not so lucky.

Several parents, especially those living in high growth areas, expressed concerns about the possibility of additional boundary changes in the near future.

Robin Zwahlen, speaking at the meeting, voiced her concern over the uncertainty of how often her children would have to change schools.

While Wilkey admitted that additional modifications to the boundaries are likely, he said that a great deal of care was taken in creating the new boundaries to make the least amount of changes necessary in the future.

Both Wilkey and Bergeson said there is a high possibility that another new elementary school would soon be in the works for the area.

In the meantime, some of the new boundaries seem odd to parents whose children will now go to schools that are much farther away than their current schools.

Cami Meinkey and her family live in the Desert Canyons neighborhood on the Southern Parkway. While her children currently attend Bloomington Hills Elementary, in August they will go to Horizon Elementary which is two miles farther away.

The Meinkey’s will pass by Majestic Fields Elementary on their way to Horizon Elementary.

“We didn’t like that we were being moved from a school and then having to go on the other side of town, drive past a school, an elementary school, to get to our new elementary school,” Meinkey said.

Though the boundary changes were passed by the board, Wilkey invited parents with additional concerns to sit down with him and have a conversation to see what could be done to help alleviate some of the misgivings they might have about the changes.

Meinkey was happy to sit down with Wilkey and discuss the issues affecting her neighborhood.

“He wants to talk with us, he was really nice, he felt like he should have talked with our neighborhood more,” Meinkey said of Wilkey. “No one goes out there. I don’t think people realize how big it is and how big it’s going to get.”

A caveat was introduced in the motion to approve the boundaries that would allow for some minor modifications to the boundaries as passed.

Wilkey said he was pleased with the way the public hearing went.

“When you have growth it’s a good thing but you always have to make adjustments,” Wilkey said. “We’re in good shape.”

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


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