RPS approves Attendance Option Redesign Proposal

(ABC 6 News) – At Jan. 23’s Rochester School Board Meeting, the Rochester Public School Board chose to approve version three of the Attendance Option Redesign Proposal in a 6 to 1 decision.

The proposal would enact new school start and end times, adjust access to school district programs and “increase the efficiency of the school district’s transportation system and building utilization,” according to the district.

The proposal came into fruition out to close a $10 million budget deficit RPS faces, after Rochester voters voted not to pass the district Tech Referendum.

“These changes are necessary, and we know that aspects of the proposal have been difficult for some in our community to support,” says Superintendent Dr. Kent Pekel. “Now that the Board has taken action, we will turn to implementing these changes effectively. We will continue to solicit feedback from the RPS community on the implementation, just as we did on the proposal.”

— RELATED: Potential changes coming to Rochester Public Schools

The latest version of the proposal would move Pinewood Elementary into the building actively occupied by Longfellow Elementary, merging the spaces of the two schools.

Longfellow Elementary operates on a 45-15 calendar and will continue to stay on its traditional schedule, despite occupying the same building as Pinewood Elementary.

A previous version of the proposal considered doing away with Longfellow’s 45-15 calendar.

The Spanish Immersion program at Gage Elementary and Willow Creek Middle Schools will move into the building occupied by Riverside Elementary.

According to the district, this move will occur in two phases: “the K-5 program will move to the Riverside building for the 2024-2025 school year, and the middle school program will move to Riverside for the 2025-2026 school year.”

Under the proposal, schools’ boundaries will also change. Students bussed to Dakota Middle School but in walking distance to John Adams will begin attending John Adams.

Students bussed to Century High but within walking distance to Mayo High will begin attending Mayo High.

Students in the neighborhood and developing area west of Hy-Vee on West Circle Drive shared by Sunset Terrace and Gibbs Elementary will begin attending Sunset Terrace Elementary.

The districts transportation services will adjust, only providing transit to and from schools within a school’s region.

If a school’s enrollment spots are not completely filled, a family can enroll their student in a school of their choice if the family can provide transportation to and from school.

— RELATED: RPS board officially accepts Mayo Clinic donation

The Montessori program at Franklin Elementary School will expand to fill spaces no longer taken by 120 active Longfellow students. Those 120 will now relocate to Franklin.

The “Newcomers” program will expand for students new to the country, offering the program at Gage and Franklin Elementary; Kellogg and Willow Creek Middle; and Century, John Marshall and Mayo High.

The district also plans to expand the School Age Child Care program to offer more students and families care before and after school.

The district will also create a “middle school alternative learning center” (ALC) for students performing substantially below grade level, have experienced abuse, struggle with mental health, experience unhousedness or experience withdrawal from school.

The changes will begin during the 2024-2025 school year.

This story is still developing, please check back for updates