Soda Creek implementing lottery system for incoming kindergarteners
Steamboat Springs — Soda Creek Elementary is implementing a lottery system for next year’s incoming kindergarteners, and students who aren’t selected will attend Strawberry Park Elementary.
District administrators have determined that Soda Creek, which is over its desired enrollment capacity this year, will have room for only four sections of kindergarten in 2015-16, instead of the five it had this year.
“We do not have space,” said Soda Creek Elementary Principal Michele Miller.
This means that 80 kindergarteners will be allowed to enroll at Soda Creek, while the rest will attend Strawberry Park. This year began with 100 kindergarteners attending Soda Creek, but remaining classes in other grades will take up more space next year, Miller said.
Strawberry Park is expected to have the room for one extra section of kindergarten next year.
Priority at Soda Creek will be given to students who have a sibling enrolled for the 2015-16 school year.
Registrations will be accepted from now until May 29, at which time the lottery will take place, assuming more than 80 kindergarteners have registered. Parents will be notified in writing of their child’s school of attendance by June 5.
Kindergartners who register after June 1 will attend Strawberry Park.
Miller said that more kindergarteners are coming to Soda Creek simply because the school’s boundaries happen to be where more new families are living right now.
She said that redrawing the boundaries might fix the immediate enrollment issue, but that the number of students coming to each school has fluctuated over the years.
The Soda Creek boundary was enlarged in 2000 when the school’s enrollment was declining and more young families were living within Strawberry Park boundaries, according to Steamboat Pilot & Today archives.
According to the current boundaries, students living in Old Town Steamboat Springs, all of the mountain area and everything east of town along U.S. Highway 40 and south of town along Colorado Highway 131 attend Soda Creek, while students living in the Strawberry Park valley, the Fish Creek Falls watershed and everything north of town on Routt County Road 129, up Twenty Mile road and along Routt County Road 179 toward Milner attend Strawberry Park.
The standing policy is to even out new students between the two schools’ kindergarten classes over the summer to make class sizes as equal as possible across schools.
Miller said that putting in more modular classrooms — the school has four fifth grade classes in two modulars already — isn’t ideal for students when regular classroom space could be available elsewhere.
It also isn’t economical, as the existing modulars cost the district about $250,000 in 2014.
“We have a solution here,” Miller said. “We really did consider all of our options, and we did what we thought was the best option. We’re trying to make it as fair as we can.”
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