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Redistricting to affect elementary schools
May, 28th 2008

Parents learned Tuesday night that elementary schools are going to be redistricted in the Souderton Area School District after the 2008-09 school year.

About 25 parents - most with fifth-graders at Vernfield Elementary - attended the middle school transition presentation May 27 at Indian Valley Middle School.

The district plans to split the student population of sixth- through eighth-graders equally between two middle schools in the 2009-10 school year. That is when the new high school will open and Indian Crest Junior High School will become a middle school.

Most parents were concerned about how a small select group of Vernfield Elementary students - about 10 students in every graduating fifth-grade class - will move to Indian Crest instead of Indian Valley, due to the way the middle school transition line cuts through the Vernfield Elementary boundary.

Brad Clemens, assistant to the superintendent and director of human resources, said the administration was merely following the charge by the school board to provide a division that results in two attendance areas that bring balance to the school district and develop a division that provides for efficient transportation.

If the numbers were changed at Vernfield, then the numbers would have to be changed at Salford Hills Elementary to be fair, he said.

"Every child played into our decision," he said.

Clemens said the dividing line was hard to come up with because there wasn't the latitude the district had in shifting the elementary school lines around.

The line they are shooting for is similar to the one used in the 1990s when the district had two middle schools.

He said the administration looked at a variety of factors in dividing the district in equal enrollment areas with efficiency in busing.

There were seven different scenarios. Four centered around attendance lines or natural boundaries like creeks, and three were school-based.

"That means we take the elementary schools in entirety," he said, to which a small number of parents applauded. "The splitting of the elementary schools was going to be an issue. We hope we wouldn't touch it for five years - and we are in the fifth year. That is coming, but it is not defined yet."

Steve Pollack, supervisor of planning and operations, said these factors included physical spaces in the two buildings, the age of the buildings, the classroom layout with Indian Crest being two-story and Indian Valley being one-story, and the size and capacity of the classes. Pollack said both schools will allow for the delivery of equal educational programs.

He said the technology education area of Indian Crest will be renovated to make it an equal program with Indian Valley.

In the first year, Indian Crest is projected to have 817 students and Indian Valley is projected to house 755 students.

Growth in the district will continue for a very long time, he said.

That growth affects bus routes, he said, which are being redesigned for grades six to 12, and will be completed by August 2009 when parents receive postcards of the routes.

The routes, he said, would limit the Indian Valley buses that would have to drive through Indian Crest areas to pick up students, and vice versa.

"Routes will minimize the amount of time students are on the bus," he said.
Six additional buses will be needed to accommodate grades six to 12, he said. This is due to students who walk to the high school now but won't be able to with the new high school location.

Superintendent Charles Amuso said the administration will take parents' concerns into consideration and report back.

"This is the best we can come up with in terms of criteria so we don't end up with an overcrowded Indian Valley," he said.

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