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Bemidji School Board expects to address Solway overcrowding

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After Solway Elementary School's enrollment topped 200 in 2010-11, school officials became increasingly concerned about the school's overcrowded classrooms, lunch room and hallways.

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After voters turned down the district's proposal to build a new elementary school last year, the Bemidji School Board now has a new proposal to solve the classroom space issue. It involves slimming down Solway's attendance area and expanding J.W. Smith's attendance area.

The board plans to vote on J.W. Smith's attendance area at its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in Bemidji High School's Media Center.

Superintendent James Hess proposes expanding J.W. Smith's attendance area further west to include neighborhoods west of the airport.

The change would affect residents in the area between Cardinal Road Northwest and Eckles Road Northwest, and from U.S. Highway 2 to Balsam Road Northwest. Approximately 28 students in grades 1-5 would be reassigned to J.W. Smith.

According to a memo written by Hess, parents of children living in this area have been notified in writing and invited to share comments with district administrators and the school board.

As a short-term solution to the space crunch issue at Solway, which was built to accommodate one class per grade, the school board voted to move Solway's kindergarten classes, along with kindergarteners from Northern Elementary, to Paul Bunyan Elementary School.

If the board decides to shift the attendance areas, kindergarteners who would normally attend Solway Elementary School would still attend classes at Paul Bunyan Elementary School.

The board also plans to vote Monday on whether to approve the first reading of the 2012-13 school calendar.

Last month, the board approved three calendar options to consider and then asked for public comment.

All three calendar options have the school year starting Sept. 4, and include 173 student days and 183 teacher contract days, with Aug. 27 designated as the teachers' first day of work. Each option also sets aside three makeup days for snow days.

The board will consider the following 2012-13 calendar options:

E Students would have a winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and be off March 29 (Good Friday). May 31 would be the students' last day of school.

E Students would have a winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and a spring break from March 25-29. June 6 would be the students' last day of school.

E Students would have off winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and a spring break from March 28 through April 2. June 5 would be the students' last day of school.

In recent years, the board has decided the calendar should include a spring break every other year.

After Solway Elementary School's enrollment topped 200 in 2010-11, school officials became increasingly concerned about the school's overcrowded classrooms, lunch room and hallways.

After voters turned down the district's proposal to build a new elementary school last year, the Bemidji School Board now has a new proposal to solve the classroom space issue. It involves slimming down Solway's attendance area and expanding J.W. Smith's attendance area.

The board plans to vote on J.W. Smith's attendance area at its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in Bemidji High School's Media Center.

Superintendent James Hess proposes expanding J.W. Smith's attendance area further west to include neighborhoods west of the airport.

The change would affect residents in the area between Cardinal Road Northwest and Eckles Road Northwest, and from U.S. Highway 2 to Balsam Road Northwest. Approximately 28 students in grades 1-5 would be reassigned to J.W. Smith.

According to a memo written by Hess, parents of children living in this area have been notified in writing and invited to share comments with district administrators and the school board.

As a short-term solution to the space crunch issue at Solway, which was built to accommodate one class per grade, the school board voted to move Solway's kindergarten classes, along with kindergarteners from Northern Elementary, to Paul Bunyan Elementary School.

If the board decides to shift the attendance areas, kindergarteners who would normally attend Solway Elementary School would still attend classes at Paul Bunyan Elementary School.

The board also plans to vote Monday on whether to approve the first reading of the 2012-13 school calendar.

Last month, the board approved three calendar options to consider and then asked for public comment.

All three calendar options have the school year starting Sept. 4, and include 173 student days and 183 teacher contract days, with Aug. 27 designated as the teachers' first day of work. Each option also sets aside three makeup days for snow days.

The board will consider the following 2012-13 calendar options:

- Students would have a winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and be off March 29 (Good Friday). May 31 would be the students' last day of school.

- Students would have a winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and a spring break from March 25-29. June 6 would be the students' last day of school.

- Students would have off winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and a spring break from March 28 through April 2. June 5 would be the students' last day of school.

In recent years, the board has decided the calendar should include a spring break every other year.

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