September 12, 2008

District Urges Closing Northway Elementary

By Daveen Rae Kurutz

North Hills School District officials have recommended the school board close one of its seven elementary schools at the end of the school year.

Under the plan, Northway Elementary would close in June, sending its students to the renovated McIntyre Elementary nearby. The closing would be the first step in a redistricting that will ultimately close three of the district's elementary buildings.

"Combining the Northway and McIntyre school attendance areas provides time for families, students and staff to adjust to the transition," said Superintendent Joseph Goodnack.

Currently, 243 students are attending kindergarten through sixth grade at Northway. The projected 2009-10 enrollment for Northway and McIntyre is 492.

The recommendation was introduced at Monday night's school board meeting and was met with a few concerns, said Tina Vojtko, district spokeswoman. Students who would be transferred to McIntyre might need to be transferred again just a year or two later when the entire redistricting occurs.

"Combining the Northway and McIntyre school attendance areas provides the most continuity for students and families," Goodnack said. "Upon completion of the four-school model, it is anticipated that a vast majority of current Northway families will be within the new McIntyre attendance area."

Goodnack added that the merger will allow for a more consistent class size. Currently, the two schools have classes ranging from 12 to 26 students. Once Northway is closed, class size will be between 20 and 25 students.

McIntyre is one of three elementary schools scheduled to undergo renovations before the redistricting. Officials initially planned to close Northway, Perrysville and Seville in 2009. Highcliff, McIntyre and Ross elementaries would be renovated and join West View Elementary as the four primary schools in the district. However, a zoning dispute with Ross officials has stalled any work on Highcliff indefinitely.

Goodnack requested the board authorize district officials to begin the design for the renovations to Ross Elementary.

Both issues will be voted on at the board's next legislative meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 in the junior high school.

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