SDMA Elementary Attendance Area Boundary Update

SDMA Elementary Attendance Area Boundary Update
Posted on 01/05/2017

In November, this School Crossings column shared information with school district stakeholders regarding an impending elementary attendance area boundary change for the 2017-2018 school year. Because more families with elementary-age children are living in North Menomonie and Cedar Falls, and since many of the newer housing developments in our community are located near that area, Wakanda Elementary School is experiencing overcrowding and the enrollment at Oaklawn Elementary School continues to decline.

Over the past several weeks, a committee of school officials, parents, and the bus company has been meeting to further study this issue and develop a recommendation for next year. The committee reviewed enrollment data from both the school district and 4K sites and heard about local housing and land development plans from planning and zoning experts. After considering all of the information, it seems clear that this enrollment trend will continue and the gap between enrollments at Oaklawn and Wakanda will grow to a problematic level.

While the school district has used the annual approval of attendance area exemption requests to help balance class sizes between sites, the size of the gap that our school district is now facing will require a more substantial solution. The attendance boundaries between Wakanda and Oaklawn Elementary Schools need to be redrawn so that class sections, class sizes, staffing, transportation, and support services can be rebalanced to best serve our children and families in the most effective and efficient manner. Based on the information reviewed, the committee is unanimously recommending to the Board that all residents living north of I-94 and east of the Red Cedar River become part of the Oaklawn Elementary attendance area. This means that some students currently attending Wakanda Elementary will be attending Oaklawn Elementary at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

Realizing that this might be a significant change for some families, the school district plans to consider some elementary attendance area exceptions (AAEs) based on the specific needs of each individual situation. Families that have children who had been required to switch schools in the past, have older children that want to finish out their last year or two at their current elementary school, or who have irreconcilable daycare needs will be given the highest priority when AAEs are considered. Also, even though families utilizing AAEs are usually responsible for providing transportation to and from school or an approved bus route stop, the school district plans to work with the transportation company to offer home pickup for some AAEs in the impacted area and establish a bus stop/transfer station near the old Cedar Falls School for the next two years.

In an effort to make this change as smooth as possible for everyone involved, school district leaders will be hosting several meetings to discuss the proposal and answer questions.  The boundary study committee will be sharing the recommendation with the school board at an open meeting scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on Monday, January 9, and a meeting for parents will be held at Wakanda Elementary School at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 11. Additional public comments may be directed to the school board at an open meeting scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Monday, January 23, and prior to the Board’s official consideration of the proposal, which is anticipated for the meeting scheduled at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, February 13.

If a change to the elementary attendance area boundaries is approved, the school district will then focus on helping families prepare for the transition that will occur at the start of the 2017-2018 school year. A special visit for transitioning students has been tentatively scheduled at Oaklawn Elementary School during the school day on April 20, and an opportunity for parents to tour the school and meet staff members will be offered after the school day is complete. 

Families impacted by the change who are interested in requesting an attendance area exception for continuing enrollment at Wakanda Elementary will be able to submit written requests to the Administrative Service Center by May 1, 2017, with decision letters expected to be issued by the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

Should school families or community stakeholders have any questions, concerns, or suggestions regarding elementary attendance boundaries, I invite you to attend the scheduled meetings, visit me at the Administrative Service Center on Pine Avenue, or contact me at 715-232-1642. While we hope that the proposed change will keep class sizes balanced for several years, changing demographics in our community and the expectations prescribed by school board policy require that the elementary attendance areas continue to be examined on a regular basis.

More information about our schools can be found on the school district website (, and I regularly post school-related information on Twitter ( and Facebook (