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Boundary changes open up space in Fairbanks school district classrooms

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Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 12:35 am | Updated: 1:31 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — A school district boundary change has resulted in a little less congestion in North Pole schools for the time being.

At Badger Road Elementary, for instance, 62 students were shifted to Ticasuk Brown Elementary, as 17 students from North Pole Elementary were shifted in.

The changes moved some students toward Fairbanks from North Pole, opening classroom space for programs that were previously without homes — like the special education resource teacher at Badger Road, who used to teach students in a corner of the school’s library.

Dave Ferree, the district’s assistant superintendent of facilities, reported at Tuesday’s school board meeting about some of the enrollment numbers and growth changes of the three North Pole elementaries and the effect of the shifts to five other schools.

Populations at Ticasuk Brown, North Pole and Badger Road elementaries and North Pole Middle School combined have been increasing since the mid-2000s. The four schools’ populations together reached capacity in the 2009-10 school year, which is when the school district began planning for boundary changes.

Planning for action on the ever-increasing populations at the schools had been under way for many years. Ferree said the school district has been looking at projected growth numbers and for some time had been trying to come up with ways to alleviate crowding.

A new elementary school was proposed but has now been put on hold as the district waits for new enrollment numbers to come in next fall. Ferree said the district expects to see a regular 2.5 percent to 3 percent growth in the coming years.

In total, 278 students were moved by boundary changes. Of those, 119 students were moved out of the North Pole area.

Badger Road Principal Dan File said his school gained three classroom spaces as students moved from his school. While classes are just as full as they were last year — and even more full in some cases — the three spaces are now being used by programs that he said desperately needed them.

The behavioral intervention program now has a room to host its study hall. Last year, students were sent to the principal’s conference room, where teacher mailboxes and office supplies are kept. Thirteen reading tutors now share a classroom to help students, when last year they didn’t have a place to go. Some of Badger’s part-time staff are still housed in storage areas, like the English Language Learner tutor in the library storage area and the Alaska Native Education tutor in the book room with the copy machine.

Ferree said the need for a new school may not have gone away with the boundary changes.

“There’s still a lot of kids in those schools,” he said. “It’s not like we magically fixed everything.”

Contact staff writer Reba Lean at 459-7523.

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