Cordie: New year brings transformation for Sherwood schools
The 2019-20 school year is under way here in the Sherwood School District, and already it is shaping up to be one of the busiest — and most exciting — years in our district's history.
One of the reasons for this is the capital improvement bond passed by voters in 2016, which is the foundation for much of what is happening in our district this year. This includes ongoing progress on our new high school campus, a project that remains on schedule and on budget.
With the opening of the new high school location, the opportunity will arise for the transformation of several schools, to new levels, in order to offer the district additional capacity at all levels. As you may know, the existing high school will become the middle school, and both Laurel Ridge Middle School and Sherwood Middle School will become elementary schools. While these transformations will increase capacity at all schools throughout the district, it will be necessary to conduct a boundary adjustment process at our elementary level to ensure that the capacity within each elementary school is balanced and to account for future growth within our district.
The adjustment of school attendance boundaries is never an easy process. While we realize that processes like this one are emotionally charged, and that impacts will be greater for some than others, it is our intent — and my expectation — that this process will be one that is transparent, provides opportunities for input and delivers clear and accurate communication along the way.
We first began planning for the boundary adjustment process last spring with an open application process for parent representatives to serve on our Boundary Adjustment Committee. From those applications, parent candidates were interviewed by myself and two members of our Board of Directors and an eight member committee was established — with two parent representatives from each of our elementary schools serving as committee members.
The Boundary Adjustment Committee began their work (led by Facilitator Karina Ruiz) in August of this year, and will continue to meet regularly through January 2020. This committee serves in an advisory role to our Board of Directors, and committee members have the responsibility of creating a recommendation to take to our Board for final approval.
Boundary adjustments approved by the Board of Directors will take effect in the 2020-21 school year, in alignment with the opening of our new transformation schools.
As the Boundary Adjustment Committee explores potential options, it is essential that members of our community have the opportunity to provide feedback. One way to do this is to attend a Community Open House. There will be two open house events focused on the boundary adjustment process, and attendees will have the opportunity to review and offer feedback on scenarios presented by the Boundary Adjustment Committee. These Open House events will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 4 and Dec. 16 in the Laurel Ridge Middle School Cafeteria.
While the boundary adjustment process is a significant undertaking for our district, there are other important initiatives our district will be working on this year as we prepare for fall 2020. An example of this is a review of the start times of our schools. Based on leading research in the field of education, our district is exploring the potential benefits of adjusting school start times. In September, a survey was sent to parents, staff and students from the middle and high school levels to gather their feedback. Feedback was also gathered from our Transportation Department, administrators throughout the district and our Board of Directors. A recommendation will be presented to our Board for approval later this year, with any adopted changes taking effect in the 2020-21 school year.
Though we continue to work on many projects this year that feel very new, one thing that will not change is our commitment to providing all of our students with quality educational experiences in a safe, welcoming and caring learning environment. The day-to-day learning happening right now in classrooms all across the district is our number one focus and at the heart of all that we do. The support you provide our students, at home, is integral to their success — and as always, we thank you for your support!
Heather Cordie is superintendent of the Sherwood School District.
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