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Central Point students may shift schools

Jewett Elementary School may lose about 50 of its students to Central Point Elementary if the School Board approves boundary changes proposed to balance enrollment, officials say.

"What we are attempting to do is balance the enrollment at our in-town schools," said Superintendent Samantha Steele.

"And the reason for balance is to ensure every student has full access to our programs and facilities," she added.

Central Point is growing in areas around Jewett and Mae Richardson elementary schools, increasing enrollment at those schools while enrollment at Central Point Elementary has declined slightly over the years, Steele said.

In April, 454 students were enrolled at Central Point Elementary and 546 at Jewett. This fall, enrollment at Jewett is predicted to increase by about 30 students while enrollment at Central Point Elementary is expected to grow by only three students.

"Right now, Jewett is at capacity," Steele said. "If we were to add another teacher there, we would have to look at repurposing space, but CPE can handle more students."

The district is considering expanding Central Point Elementary's boundary to include the area between Pine Street and Crater High School, as well as an area south of Scenic, taking in Aurora Lane, Victoria Way, Princess Way, Windsor Way, Kings Way, Crown Avenue and Comet Way.

Families of about 70 students live in the affected attendance area, said Jewett Principal Tom Rambo.

Current Jewett students who will be entering the fourth or fifth grade this fall could choose to remain there, but all other students will be asked to switch schools. Some in-district transfers may be permitted, but those will be determined on a case-by-case basis, Steele said.

Rambo called and wrote letters to families affected by the boundary change, and the district hosted an informational meeting Thursday evening at Central Point Elementary so parents could ask questions, meet the school's staff and tour the school, which after being rebuilt is nearly 50 years newer than Jewett.

"When I called parents, I start by saying, 'I don't want any of our kiddos to change schools, but the position we're in is if we start the next school year with the projected numbers, we would have to add another teacher, and we don't have space for another teacher without putting them in a library or on the stage or converting another area into a classroom.' "

Rambo said most of the parents he has talked with have been "pretty understanding."

The School Board heard the proposal at the May 27 meeting and will vote on it at its June 10 meeting.

Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.