Boundaries, four-day week on school agenda

District 51 School Board members are scheduled to choose between a five-day or four-day week school calendar and may change some school boundaries at a meeting at 6 tonight at Basil T. Knight Center, 2523 Patterson Road.

Both changes would go into effect this fall. If the board adopts a four-day week, the district plans to save $1.5 million to $2 million.

A memo sent to the school board March 6 by District 51 Nutrition Services Director Dan Sharp said the department may have to cut up to 13 percent of its budget if a four-day school week is approved. Reductions may include the elimination of breakfast service at 14 schools, a move to cold lunch service-only at six schools, and an end to food service at Gateway School.

Fruita Monument High School, Grand Junction High School, Redlands Middle School and West Middle School may also end participation in the free and reduced school meal program if a four-day week is approved.

The board is considering budget cuts because of an anticipated enrollment decline and a state-mandated increase in contributions to retirement benefit accounts. A March 19 state revenue forecast and recent indications from the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee show an anticipated $2 million to $4 million state budget cut to the district may be averted.

The district would not save money by changing school boundaries. It is considering that move tonight to alleviate crowding at Fruita elementary schools. The board may shift some students living west of the border between Rim Rock and Shelledy elementary schools from Rim Rock to Shelledy and shift Shelledy students who live south of Interstate 70 to either Broadway or Loma elementary schools.

If south Fruita students go to Broadway, school board members said at a March 8 board meeting it will become less likely Scenic Elementary may close. Scenic’s closure had been eyed as a possible way to save $1.2 million.

Scenic Parent-Teacher Organization President Jenny Hall said Monday she hopes the board decides to send south Fruita students to Broadway and keep Scenic open. She said she feels the decision will be good for Fruita is expected to continue to add students.

Board members have said students at Shelledy or Rim Rock can remain there for the near future and that the boundary changes will happen gradually. But Fruita parent Chandra Boulden, who has a first-grader at Rim Rock, said she worries what will happen to her two younger children. Even if she fills out a School of Choice application for each child, she said those applications are due each year and she would not be guaranteed that option.

“I don’t want the school board to make one decision this year and change their mind next year. Kids need stability,” she said.

Boulden started a petition online against boundary changes. She has received 13 signatures so far.

She said there is no doubt the schools are crowded, given there are 27 children in her daughter’s class. But Boulden said she would prefer another solution, such as placing modulars at the two schools.


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