Eight year old Gracie Silveria sits at the front of the bus counting students as they get on at Woodland Primary School, April 19. 

Woodland Public Schools is set to roll out a new neighborhood model when the current primary and intermediate schools become K-4 elementary schools next school year. 

The current Woodland Primary School will become Columbia Elementary School while the current intermediate building will be called North Fork Elementary for the 2019-2020 school year. Both schools will shift their start times to 7:45 a.m., in line with the current start time for Yale Elementary, which will remain a K-4 building.

Woodland Middle School will keep its current start time at 8:45 a.m. while Woodland High School will shift its start time 35 minutes later, to 9 a.m.

Superintendent Michael Green noted that enrollment of first- through fourth-grade students at what will become Columbia Elementary would be 307 students while North Fork Elementary will have 404 in those grade levels. He explained that numbers for kindergarten enrollment were not completely determined at this point, though districtwide the number is a little over 190 students — he noted that number tends to change year to year.

For Woodland Child Care, the district’s before- and after-school program, Green said total enrollment numbers were not available, though he said the district plans to offer the program at both of the reconfigured elementary schools. Of students who will be in first through fourth grade next year, he stated in an email that 48 students at Columbia and 67 at North Fork would be part of the child care program.

In January the district hosted an information night for parents curious to see what the reconfiguration would look like. Green said the event gave the district a chance to explain why it made the decisions it did — for things such as start times he stressed that there were complex issues to address, such as the cost of bus service.

“I think walking into the meeting there were several people who were concerned, but as we went through the meeting that concern diminished,” Green said. “Not everybody loved a 7:45 a.m. start time, they simply understood that it was not a decision made just because. There was reasoning behind it.”

“It’s not been an issue once people get used to it,” Green said, referencing how in the past the district has shifted its start times before.

One of the benefits of the reconfiguration would be shorter bus rides. The information night presentation noted that ride times would likely decrease the most for students at the current Woodland Intermediate School, from 67 minutes to 26 minutes on afternoon rides, with other schools having decreases as well.

Green said there were “very few” teachers requesting a change in buildings, and as of April 18 there were 41 intra-district transfers for students between schools. 

Overall Green said the reconfiguration has gone “relatively smoothly” all things considered.

“Ultimately we just see it as the best opportunity for kids,” Green remarked. “It’s going to be a good transition, a healthy transition for our schools, and it feels good to be making it.”

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