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At its Nov. 14 meeting, the School Board unanimously approved a recommendation to reconfigure elementary attendance areas beginning with the 2017-18 school year. The recommendation came from a task force of parents and staff charged with establishing an attendance area for what will become the district’s nineteenth elementary school when it opens next fall.

The school is being built at the southwest corner of 160th Street (County Road 46) and Diamond Path in Lakeville, near the districts southern border, in what is currently the Parkview Elementary School attendance area. It will provide relief to overcrowding at Parkview and four adjacent schools resulting from the addition of full-day kindergarten, the expansion of school-based preschool and housing growth in the southern part of the district. Funding for the new school was included in the bond referendum approved by district voters in November 2015.

The attendance area for the new school is comprised of parts of the current attendance areas for Diamond Path, Highland, Parkview, Shannon Park and Rosemount elementary schools. It is an area bounded by Pilot Knob Road and the eastern border of Regatta Park in Apple Valley to the west, 170th Street and the districts southern border to the south, Highway 3 to the east, and 155th Street and County Road 42 along different parts of the areas northern border.

There are currently 669 elementary age students living in the area, all of whom may not choose to attend the new school, which is designed for a capacity of 710 students. The task force was instructed to not fill the school completely in the first year in order to leave room for future growth. The district estimates that the undeveloped area immediately south of the new school may eventually be home to as many as 100 additional elementary students when completely developed over the next few years.

Of the 669 elementary students currently living in the area, 31 percent are in the Diamond Path attendance area, 25 percent in Parkview, 22 percent in Shannon Park, 16 percent in Rosemount Elementary and 6 percent in Highland. Enrollments at all five of these schools are currently above building capacity and are projected to be slightly below capacity after the new school opens.

Students living in the attendance area of the new elementary school can choose to stay at their existing school by completing the districts Intradistrict Student Transfer Application (502.4P). All applications submitted by Jan. 5, 2017 will be approved; however, transportation for these transfer students will not be provided by the district, consistent with past practice when opening a new school. The only exception is Diamond Path; transportation will continue to be provided to students who choose to stay at Diamond Path, which is a magnet school with specific funding for transportation.

In addition to establishing an attendance area for the new elementary school, the task force recommendation includes moving a small part of the Highland attendance area to the Diamond Path attendance area in order to better balance enrollment with growth projections. The triangular area is bounded by a retaining wall west of Dundee Avenue to the west, Dodd Boulevard to the south, Diamond Path to the east and 150th Street (County Road 42) to the north. Students living in this area who choose to stay at Highland will continue to receive transportation for three more years, through the 2019-20 school year. This is also consistent with past practice when moving part of an attendance area to an existing school.

The task force presented a preliminary recommendation to the board in late September and at two community listening sessions for parents in early October. The final recommendation, which did not change from the preliminary, was presented to the board as new business Oct. 24 and approved as old business Nov. 14.

The 25-member task force included 11 district staff members and 14 parents, including two each from Cedar Park, Diamond Path, Highland, Parkview, Shannon Park and Rosemount elementary schools, and one each from Rosemount and Scott Highlands middle schools. The changes approved by the board do not affect the districts middle school or high school attendance areas.

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