Update:

The Anchorage School Board unanimously approved a measure on Monday, March 4, which allows 137 students from Eagle River to attend Birchwood ABC School and 144 students to Homestead Elementary School.

Anchorage School District Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop says the boundary changes will keep students in the same family and neighborhoods together.

Original Story:

The Anchorage School Board held a special meeting Wednesday to discuss where students whose schools are closed because of Nov. 30 earthquake damage will attend school next year.

Board members were briefed by ASD officials on a series of boundary change recommendations for students who attend Eagle River Elementary School, as well as a plan for Gruening Middle School students. Both schools are currently closed and will remain closed for the next school year.

ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop said the recommendations were made after a series of public meetings and an online survey of Eagle River families. She said the short-term plan proposed for next year, hosted on the district's website, is considered both economically viable and the least disruptive to the community.

The district is proposing that Gruening students who are currently attending school at Chugiak High School stay there next year. But finding homes for students of Eagle River Elementary has proved a bit trickier. This year, students are separated into different schools based on their grade level. But according to Bishop, that's proved a hardship for families with more than one child.

"What we did was break up families and that was a problem for us, we knew that right away," Bishop said. "If I had a child in preschool and then a second grader and a fifth grader I went, before November 30, to one school. Now I have three different schools in my community and that's rough."

The district is proposing temporary boundary changes that would send about 137 Eagle River students to Birchwood ABC School and another 144 students to Homestead Elementary School. About 90 students who are currently enrolled in Eagle River's Open Optional program would re-locate to Fire Lake Elementary. The pre-K program would remain at Ravenwood Elementary next year.

Bishop said the boundary changes would keep students in the same family and the same neighborhoods together, but it's up to the school board to approve them. The board plans to vote on the changes at its next meeting on Monday.

Bishop said families who are unhappy with a new school assignment for next year can ask for a zone exemption. That decision is made by lottery and parents must apply by March 21.

Also on Wednesday, the district announced that engineers have released a report that shows Eagle River Elementary can be repaired. The district expects to get a similar report about Gruening Middle School. Information on the costs involved and how long repairs would take has yet to be released.

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