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Boundaries studied for elementary attendance in Willmar

WILLMAR -- Attendance boundaries for Kennedy and Roosevelt elementary schools in Willmar could be re-designed this spring, depending on enrollment patterns.

Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard told the Willmar School Board on Monday that he will be studying housing and population shifts to decide if new boundaries are needed.

No decisions will be made until spring, after more board discussion, he said.

Currently, each of the schools has about 900 students. "That's more than I wanted at Roosevelt," Kjergaard said. Kennedy has more room and should have more students, he added.

The boundaries were set in 2009 when the district closed two smaller elementary schools and moved all elementary students into the two larger buildings.

At first, the boundaries worked well, dividing the population in proportion to the school size and giving each school similar demographics.

Over time, the student population has shifted to send more students to Roosevelt. However, there is some indication that the student population may be shifting back to the Kennedy area, he said. "We're still studying it."

The attendance areas are split along a line that runs roughly from the east side of Eagle Lake, west to U.S. Highway 71, then south to Willmar Avenue. The line then runs west along Willmar Avenue and state Highway 40 to the edge of the district. Students south and east of the line attend Roosevelt; and students living north and west of the line attend Kennedy.

The board approved a second adjustment in the school calendar because of snow days. Because of a snow day on Dec. 16, the district will have a school day on Presidents Day on Feb. 21. School will close two hours early to allow time for staff training.

Earlier, the board had made Jan. 24 a school day with early dismissal for staff training and had designated Feb. 21 as a full day of staff training. Now both are school days with early dismissal.

If the district has any more snow days, they will be made up in June, Kjergaard said.

Human Resources Director Bill Busta attended his last official meeting Monday. He will retire Jan. 28.

"It's been great," Busta said in thanking the board. "I've enjoyed my position and working with the board."

Board members thanked Busta for his service to the district. "He's a great asset, and the district's going to miss him," said board member Eric Roberts.

The district will have a reception honoring Busta from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 24.

Kjergaard said he would be interviewing four candidates for the human resources position this week. He expects to choose two candidates to return for a second interview and to have a new employee in the position by the end of February, he said.

The board voted to close the meeting to the public to discuss the lawsuit and arbitration concerning the Senior High School roof and wall drainage system. The district is trying to recover the cost of repairing mistakes in the initial construction of the 1994 building.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340