Moorhead Area Public Schools weighing boundary change options
The Spanish immersion program will transition to Probstfield Center for Education for the 2022-23 school year, forcing adjustments to account for enrollment changes.
MOORHEAD — Moorhead Area Public Schools began a boundary change process for the Spanish immersion program out of Ellen Hopkins Elementary on Monday, Jan. 24, but a decision won’t be reached for more than two months.
The program offers children in grades K-6 an opportunity to learn to read, write and speak Spanish. The program is located at Ellen Hopkins Elementary for grades K-4 and Horizon Middle School West Campus for fifth and sixth grades.
The Spanish immersion program will transition to Probstfield Center for Education for the 2022-23 school year, which will force the district to realign attendance area boundaries at each elementary school and evaluate district start times and transportation routes, said Brenda Richman, district spokeswoman.
Steve Moore, director of operations and emergency management, recommended three boundary adjustment plans to the school board that will be studied by a task force comprised in part by one parent for each affected elementary school: Robert Asp, Dorothy Dodds, Ellen Hopkins, Probstfield and S.G. Reinertsen.
The first scenario will take the existing Ellen Hopkins boundary and add areas from S.G. Reinertsen , Dorothy Dodds and Robert Asp elementary schools in an attempt to balance enrollments “because we have eastern expansion and southern expansion as the city grows,” Moore said.
Under the first option, Probstfield would have a 20-minute earlier bell time than other elementary schools, an idea that was not fully supported by 941 people who participated in a survey the district conducted, Moore said. In addition, there would be a need for additional staff for expanded drop-off times.
The second scenario is a cleaner cut, Moore said, and will take different areas from Dorothy Dodds and Robert Asp to incorporate with Ellen Hopkins, and other areas from Dorothy Dodds to split between Ellen Hopkins and S.G. Reinertsen.
Under the second option, Probstfield would need to start five to 10 minutes earlier and there would be no busing available for Spanish immersion students. Shuttles between the schools would take about five to 10 minutes.
The third scenario would take an area from Robert Asp and incorporate it into Dorothy Dodds and an area from Ellen Hopkins to incorporate into Robert Asp, and then take another area from Dorothy Dodds to split between Ellen Hopkins and S.G. Reinertsen, which “spreads it out a little bit better,” especially for free and reduced students, Moore said.
Option three wouldn’t be able to provide busing for Spanish immersion students, and congestion would increase due to parent drop-off, but the option wouldn’t create any new bus routes, Moore said.
A fourth option resembled the first scenario with minor changes, but would require another bus and driver, Moore said.
“We ran lots of different scenarios, but when the task force meets and they find another scenario that meets the criteria we will look at those, as well. We wanted to provide three good options to the task force that does not close the door to other options that meet the criteria,” Moore said.
Matt Valan, a board member, questioned the feasibility of the Spanish immersion program, and although the program has been strong since it started about 20 or more years ago, he asked if it was still the right direction for the district.
“The world has changed in those years, ... and I suppose somewhere along the line it may be good to revisit that and see if that is the direction we want to continue,” Valan said.
Other future options that the public had interest in included Mandarin and American Sign Language.
Board member Kara Gloe asked how the district planned to get the information out to the public.
Moore said after the task force is selected they will hold three meetings to conclude by March 4. They will then bring a suggestion to the School Board by the end of March or the middle of April.