Friday, August 22, 2008

School starts Monday

Impact of residency requirement still unknown

Express Staff Writer

Joni Cashman, art teacher at Woodside Elementary School, gets supplies in order for the start of school on Monday. Some 3,300 children are expected to attend Blaine County Schools this year. Photo by David N. Seelig

School starts Monday for several thousand Blaine County youngsters.

There were 3,317 students registered last year. Whether the number will greater or less this year isn't yet known.

"We won't know what our enrollment is going to be until a week into school," said Laurie Kaufman, clerk to the Blaine County School District Board of Trustees.

Likewise, the impact of the district's new residency requirement isn't yet known.

Students at Bellevue Elementary School will have a treat come Monday because about $1 million was spent this summer on a "general site improvement" project.

There were no changes in top administrative positions at any of the district's eight schools.

Outsiders need not apply

Kaufman said the new residency requirement meant extra work for district staff and patrons but generally things went smoothly.

"I think it's gone quite well," she said. "From what I've heard, the positive remarks far outweigh the negative comments. We had lots of calls with questions and only just a few complaints."

The board of trustees adopted the Blaine County-residents-only rule in July because of concerns that people living outside the county were registering children in the district's schools. Since about two-thirds of the district's budget is from property taxes, patrons had complained that outsiders weren't paying.

Bellevue Makeover

About $1 million was spent at Bellevue Elementary this summer to improve the look of the school, enhance safety and create more room for outdoor play.

Curbs, gutters and sidewalks were constructed around the perimeter, as was a fence. The city granted a 10-foot easement around the perimeter of the facility, allowing for increased outdoor play area.

A new baseball field is being built, asphalt was removed and grass was planted around four portable classrooms, new lights were added and more off-street parking was provided.

The parent drop-off point was separated from the bus drop-off location for increased safety. Parent drop-off is now in the front of the main building and bus drop-off is at the rear.

Heated pavers were installed at all entrances to eliminate winter ice problems and power lines were reinstalled underground.

"We're just making the whole site look nice," said district Business Manager Mike Chatterton.

Same headmasters

The same principals will head the district's eight schools.

Angie Martinez will continue as principal at Bellevue Elementary, Tom Bailey at Hailey Elementary, Gary St. George at Woodside Elementary and Don Haisley at Hemingway Elementary.

Fritz Peters is principal at Wood River Middle School and John Blackman is principal at Wood River High School.

Cary School principal is John Peck and Barge Levy is director of Silver Creek Alternative School.

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