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Out-of-district students spared

Eben Harrell

Out-of-district students who faced removal from Aspen Elementary School were saved at the eleventh hour yesterday, when the district board decided it is not necessary for them to leave to deal with overcrowding at the school.Instead, the board authorized the purchase of a modified trailer, called a portable, to house both elementary and middle school art classes next year. The portable will free up two classrooms in the elementary school, enough space to keep all enrolled students at the school.Facing unusually large numbers of students at the elementary school next year, the district had anticipated either adding a portable or asking some 12 students living outside the district to leave. A decision was needed to meet class-size limits set by the board last year. The use of portables is not unprecedented. They are used in districts throughout the state and the district’s preschool, called “The Cottage,” is currently housed in a portable. Portables were also used during the recent renovation of Aspen High School. Moving the art classes will also allow the elementary school choir class to be held in the room designed for choir. The room currently houses a traditional class. “I like this option,” board member Jon Seigle said. “Since we invested in building a choir room, we might as well allow them to use the choir room.”School superintendent Diana Sirko said the decision might upset district art teachers, but honoring out-of-district students trumped their concerns.”Tomorrow I’ll have a ‘wanted dead or alive’ poster of me in the art room,” Sirko said. “But I’ve seen classes in portables before and they can be a really great space.”The board agreed it must take a tougher stance on out-of-district students in the future, even going so far as asking them to leave. Too often, the desire for per-pupil funding from the state – the district receives $8,000 for each student – has been put before overcrowding concerns.”We don’t have the luxury of using out-of-district students to balance the budget,” board president Fred Pierce said. “We have to be clear with out-of-district parents that if they are admitted one year they may be asked to leave the next.”Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com


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