Parents’ views mixed on school redistricting

Children across Clovis will be moved from Marshall and Yucca middle schools to the new W.D. Gattis Middle School in August 2013 if any of four proposed redistricting plans passes.

Parents of children living in areas affected by the redistricting recently shared mixed views on the issue.

Nick and Stephanie Yruegas moved from the Sandia district to the Parkview district last year but kept their children in the Sandia district to avoid any disruption in their education.

The Yruegas have a son who could start eighth grade at Gattis when it opens in August 2013.

Nick Yruegas likes that his son Ian will have the opportunity to attend a new campus but does not want him separated from his friends and teachers at Marshall. He said students who stay in the same middle school can learn in a more comfortable environment.

"I think if the kids are in a school now, they need to be there until they move on to a different grade level," Yruegas said.

"I think they need to keep those kids together instead of splitting them up. It's just like moving to a new city and in that time of their lives it's hard for them to do."

Yruegas said he and his wife usually drive their children to and from school and said the extra driving distance will be an inconvenience.

Clovis Municipal Schools superintendent Terry Myers said his recommendation to the school board would be to allow a process known as grandfathering to come into play when Gattis opens.

This would allow seventh graders starting eighth grade to finish their middle school education at their existing school if they prefer.

Myers said the process will particularly help students who feel staying with their set of friends helps their performance. He said allowing them to stay with those friends they may have attended school with throughout their elementary years could facilitate learning.

Crystal Garcia lives in the Cameo district and likes that her daughter Savannah could start eighth grade at Gattis.

"I'm excited. I think it's a good idea. I went to Gattis (old campus)."

Garcia believes the mixing of students from districts such as Cameo and Mesa will be a good experience for the children because it will allow them to make new friends in a new learning environment.

Jennifer Hart lives in the Highland district and her daughter Treyla Autrey will continue attending Marshall in her eighth-grade year. Hart opposes redistricting options A, B, C and D that could force children to attend a separate school for eighth grade but considered the other side also. Hart said grandfathering is best in any case.

"Some kids may not like to be forced to go to another school," Hart said. "But it can have a positive effect, too, if parents are looking for a new change if they're not happy with the school their child is attending."

Myers said when district officials gave redistricting parameters to Research and Polling, Inc., the company that drew redistricting boundaries, they wanted to make sure the demographics in Clovis middle schools were maintained.

"In other words we're not going to create a school that has one particular ethnicity at a very low rate and another school have that same ethnicity at a very high rate," Myers said.

"We want the ethnicities at each of the middle schools to match each ethnicity and demographic of our school district. We think that's in the best interest of our children and our community."

Myers said the district also has numbers requirements. He said school officials are aware that Gattis is going to have larger numbers because the school's capacity and design is for more children.

"We know it will be the largest of the three, but we are going to try to keep the other two schools about the same size and as close to the population of Gattis as we can," Myers said.

The public can review and comment on the redistricting proposals at a 5:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday in the Clovis schools administration building. A second meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 2 in the Clovis High School lecture hall.

A representative from Research and Polling, Inc. will explain the process used to develop the proposals.

Questions about the redistricting can be directed to the superintendent's office at 769-4320.

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