The Duluth school district Tuesday released three possible scenarios for upcoming boundary changes.
The public has a chance to comment on the three scenarios, which will be used to create one final option for board approval, by attending one of two community meetings scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 22, at East High School at 6 p.m. and Thursday, Jan. 23, at Denfeld High School at 6 p.m.
Those who are unable to attend the meetings can give their opinions on the scenarios through a survey, which can be found at surveymonkey.com/r/ISD709. The survey closes Feb. 3 at 8 a.m.
Residents can find out how each scenario affects them by visiting myschoollocation.com/isd709scenarios and entering their address.
Most school districts will change their internal boundaries every two to three years to adjust to changing populations. Duluth has not changed its boundaries in 10 years, which has resulted in eastern schools becoming overpopulated.
Congdon Elementary School is currently the most overpopulated school, sitting at 108.8% of its capacity, while Stowe Elementary School on the most western reaches of the district is only at 50.9% capacity.
Scenario 1 offers the most dramatic changes in an attempt to balance enrollment and demographics between east and west schools.
In this scenario, Lowell Elementary School would become a language immersion-only school. Students living within its current boundaries would be split up between Homecroft, Myers-Wilkins and Piedmont elementary schools.
In this scenario, Congdon would drop to 91.2% in capacity utilization and Stowe would increase to 68.5% by absorbing some Laura MacArthur Elementary students. Homecroft Elementary School would have the highest capacity utilization at 97.2%, which is due to some of Lester Park Elementary Schools’ students moving to Lakewood.
Currently, Lowell and Myers-Wilkins students are each split between Denfeld and East high schools. Scenario 1 would get rid of these splits, with Myers-Wilkins students feeding toward eastern schools. It would also change Homecroft, so instead of feeding into East, those students would feed into Denfeld. Because Lowell would be an immersion-only school in this scenario, those students would feed into their assigned schools based on their address.
This scenario would make the middle and high schools more balanced in enrollment and demographics.
Scenario 2 offers the least amount of change. It would keep Lowell a neighborhood school and move its Ojibwe immersion program to Stowe.
The scenario would still drop enrollment at Congdon, bringing capacity utilization down to 94.9%. It would also raise Stowe’s capacity utilization to 76% by absorbing the Ojibwe immersion students and some Laura MacArthur students.
In this scenario, Lakewood would also absorb even more students from Lester Park than Scenario 1 and would even absorb some Homecroft students.
Homecroft would feed into the same middle and high schools.
Enrollment between the middle and high schools would be balanced, but the demographics would not be balanced.
Scenario 3 is more of a middle-ground option compared to the other two. In this scenario, Lowell would remain as-is, with both Spanish and Ojibwe immersion programs occupying the school alongside traditional students, though some traditional students would be moved to either Congdon or Piedmont.
This scenario would also make a change so Homecroft would feed into the western middle and high schools and have 100% of Myers-Wilkins feed into the eastern middle and high schools. Lowell would continue to be split, with a majority of students going to the western middle and high schools.
Stowe would absorb the same amount of Laura MacArthur students as Scenario 2. Lakewood would absorb about the same amount of Lester Park students, though Lakewood would not absorb any Homecroft students.
Some Congdon students would be reassigned to Lowell and Myers-Wilkins, while the Congdon boundaries would absorb a chunk of Lester Park students. In this scenario, a small area east of Northland Country Club and north of Superior Street would be assigned to Congdon instead of Lester Park.
Enrollment and demographics would be more balanced in middle and high schools.
After the comment period from the public, consultant firm Cooperative Strategies would take all the feedback and create final recommendations to bring to the Duluth School Board for final approval in either late February or early March. The implementation of the boundary changes would be decided by the board with the help of administration.
Superintendent Bill Gronseth has said in the past that if the board approves the boundary changes this school year, it doesn't necessarily mean it will affect all the students starting next school year as there are many items and situations to consider.
For more information on the boundary study and to see all the scenarios put forward in the past, visit isd709.org/district/isd-709-boundary-project.