Elementary School Transition Updates
The Minnesota Department of Education's flexible learning year provides optional scheduling approaches for students and educators for a school year by building or program. Sumner Elementary School has utilized a 45/15 schedule for several years in the Austin Public Schools. Starting in the 2023-2024 school year, Sumner Elementary School will return to the same calendar as the other elementary schools in the district.
This means that beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, all Austin Public Schools will be on a traditional calendar when all students begin in the fall, have traditional breaks throughout the year, and have most of the summer off. This transition in schedule also means that all elementary students in the Austin Public Schools will eventually begin the process of adhering to attending their neighborhood elementary school. The elementary boundaries have not changed. This transition will involve several changes throughout the district, and we would like to share as much as possible with you here.
Please see the Frequently Asked Questions below, and if you don't see the answer you are looking for, please feel free to contact us using the Submit a Question form, and we will get back to you with an answer as soon as we can.
- What are the changes that are happening for 2023-2024?
- What were the reasons for this decision?
- What were the considerations for returning Sumner to the traditional calendar?
- Why do students need to return to their neighborhood schools?
- Why does our family have to attend our home attendance area school?
- What is the legal authority for these decisions?
- The District will not renew its 45/15 application; all schools will be on the traditional calendar.
- The District will adhere to elementary students attending the school of their residence with a multi-year approach.
Sumner is a racially identifiable school. What does that mean? Enrollment of protected-class students at a school is more than 20 percent compared to the number of protected-class students within the District (for the same grade levels served).
Three significant factors drove the Board's decision:
- Per MDE, flex learning year (45/15) approvals are contingent upon meeting the school district's performance goals established in the District's plan under section 120B.11. (World's Best Workforce) Minnesota Rules, part 3500.1000 indicates flexible learning year programs shall be designed to accomplish at least one of the following:
- Improve instructional quality.
- Increase cost-effectiveness.
- Make better use of community resources or available technology.
- Establish an alternative eligibility criterion to identify pupils needing special education services.
- Create greater enrollment balance to the extent possible among the District's four elementary schools across demographic categories.
- Plan for future enrollment growth by balancing building utilization throughout our system in a cost-effective manner.
- Enrollment balance to reflect the diversity of the Austin Public Schools
- Efficient use of building capacity and operations (i.e., staffing)
- Developing community through adhering to neighborhood attendance zones
- Long-term enrollment, building capacity trends, and future facility needs
- The impact of transportation and pedestrian patterns on students
The District is not altering attendance zones. The current attendance zones have been in place for nearly 30 years. The District is adhering to the established neighborhood schools' attendance zones to capitalize on space utilization among schools throughout the system and addressing a racially identifiable school.
Austin Public Schools ensures that all the District schools run well and efficiently. This means:
- Ensuring all schools are full or close to full capacity.
- Ensuring all seats in all schools are filled before building new ones saves taxpayer money in the operating and capital budgets of the school system.
- As previously shared, enrollment growth is expected to continue, and the District is engaged in a comprehensive facility assessment.
- Will a multi-year approach be considered for current elementary school students and siblings?
- Where can I see my current school boundaries?
- Can my child stay at their current school?
- What is the process if my child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan?
- Will my child move schools if they attend a specialized program (Horizons, Pi Academy, Southgate Pod)?
- My child attends a specialized program in an elementary school outside of our home attendance area. Is my other elementary-aged child able to attend the same school?
- Will my child's daycare location determine the school of attendance?
- I open-enroll my student. Which school will they attend?
- If I move to a new neighborhood during the school year, can my child stay in their current neighborhood school?
- What happens if I move to a new elementary attendance zone between now and the start of the school year?
- How do I verify my address for resident school?
Parents/guardians cannot request which school their child attends.
If your child does not currently attend their neighborhood school, then parents will need to transport their 2nd-4th grade students if they want to remain in the current school. For the duration of the time they wish to remain there, bussing will not be provided. The student's home address will determine their school of attendance. School-aged childcare is available for all students in grades PK-4th Grade. More information can be found here.
All of our schools have staff to teach students with IEPs or 504s. Staff members from the current school will meet with staff members from the new school to go over the IEP/504 plans for any students who are moving between schools. Parents/guardians will be very involved in the transition because they are part of the IEP/504 team.
Starting for the 23-24 school year, Austin Public Schools will be asking for address verification through the Campus Portal annual renewals and new online enrollment applications. You will be asked to upload proof of address (i.e. Utilities, Cell Phone, Cable, or Sanitation bill) during the online registration process.
- Will my child get a bus to our neighborhood school?
- Can my child get transportation from their daycare to their neighborhood school?
If your child does not currently attend their neighborhood school, then parents will need to transport their 2nd-4th grade students if they want to remain in the current school. For the duration of the time they wish to remain there, bussing will not be provided. Students who live greater than 1 mile from their neighborhood school are eligible for District transportation to the neighborhood school. Eligible students may receive one before-school pick-up location and one after-school drop-off location.
The student's home address will determine their school of attendance, not childcare address. If the child is eligible for District transportation they may receive one before-school pick-up location and one after-school drop-off location, which could be the daycare location. If your child does not currently attend their neighborhood schools, then parents will need to transport their 2nd-4th grade students if they want to remain in the current school. For the duration of the time they wish to remain there, bussing will not be provided.
- My child is thriving at their current school. I'm worried they will not get the same support or curriculum at their new school. What should I do?
- How can I best support my child during this transition?
The most significant piece of advice is to stay positive! Children often learn behaviors from adults, so during transition times like these, it is important to remain optimistic and provide positive support for your child. Some helpful tips on change for children can be found here.
You can also reach in contact with your child’s school counselors, success coaches, or the principal.