TREMONTON -- Elementary schools in northern Box Elder County are full beyond capacity, but new buildings are just the beginning when it comes to making room for almost 2,500 students to learn.
On March 30, Box Elder School Board members are planning to finalize a broad change to school boundaries that will bring enrollment numbers down to a manageable level in each school.
Five schools are serving students in 14 rural communities. The buildings are full, and the temporary, portable buildings are full.
Garland Elementary currently has 420 students in a building built for 375, leaving enrollment at 112 percent of capacity there. At McKinley Elementary in Tremonton, enrollment is 609 students or 110 percent of capacity. On the other side of Tremonton, North Park Elementary has 639 students in a school built to serve 600.
Century Elementary in Bear River city was added on to about five years ago when schools in Honeyville and Corinne were closed as part of a districtwide plan to close small schools and consolidate students. That school is now just shy of 97 percent building capacity.
Fielding Elementary School is the northern-most school in the county and had the most room to grow, but the school district felt like that building was in need of replacement.
Garland and Fielding schools are being replaced, with construction set to be complete before the start of the next school year. Both schools are being built in the same design as the Three Mile Creek School in Perry, which saves the district money in architectural fees.
With that date fast approaching, the school board now has to figure out how to redistribute students in each of the schools in a way that makes best use of the additional space provided in the new buildings.
The school board drafted a proposed change to current boundaries and held a series of meetings over the last two months in which they gathered public input. About 275 people attended those meetings.
As a result of those meetings, the district has amended its recommendations, and a revised plan was presented during a school board meeting last week.
Under this plan, students in Deweyville will not move to Fielding, but will continue to attend North Park instead. Students from East Tremonton and the McDonald Road area also will remain at North Park, instead of being moved to Garland.
Students from the Thatcher/Penrose area who are now attending McKinley Elementary will be moved to Garland, and students from the Third Ward area will remain at Century Elementary instead of being moved to McKinley.
The only opposition raised to this new plan came from parents of 31 students from the northeast Garland area who are currently attending Garland Elementary. Under the current plan, these students will be moved to Fielding, even though their families were told last year that they would be able to remain at Garland.
The school board members did not comment on this concern. However, they do still have the option of making additional changes to the boundary change plan before taking formal action at the March 30 meeting.
With these changes, using projected enrollment figures for 2011-12, Century, North Park and Fielding schools will still be above 90 percent capacity, but the other schools will be between 83-85 percent.