Education

Natomas Unified poised to shift sixth graders to middle school to alleviate overcrowding

Third grade teacher Becky Dose conducts a lesson at Natomas Park Elementary School on Aug. 12, 2010. Natomas Park would shift sixth graders to middle school, add portables and possibly see boundary changes if trustees pass an overcrowding plan Wednesday.
Third grade teacher Becky Dose conducts a lesson at Natomas Park Elementary School on Aug. 12, 2010. Natomas Park would shift sixth graders to middle school, add portables and possibly see boundary changes if trustees pass an overcrowding plan Wednesday. RBenton@sacbee.com

Natomas Unified sixth graders will attend middle school rather than elementary, two campuses will change their neighborhood boundaries and some highly desirable schools could assign seats by lottery if the district board approves a staff recommendation at its 6 p.m. meeting tonight.

Anticipating a boom in student enrollment and prohibited from adding schools because of a building moratorium, Natomas Unified officials have been discussing how to deal with overcrowding since 2013.

A wave of new homes and new students is expected once the moratorium – in place since 2008 due to flood risk – is lifted later this year. Because builders can construct homes much quicker than the three- to four-year time frame it takes to establish a school, a wave of new students is expected to arrive before the district can add enough campuses.

The recommendations include:

▪ Move sixth-graders to middle schools. Parents will be able to choose between Natomas Middle, Natomas Gateways Middle and Leroy Greene Academy. All future elementary schools would be designed as K-5 programs. Students at Heron K-8 will remain there for sixth through eighth grade.

▪ Boundary shifts could affect Witter Ranch and Natomas Park elementary schools. The district also would create a choice region, where Heron families living in a specific portion of its boundaries could choose to attend either Heron or H. Allen Hight. The boundary shifts would not affect currently enrolled students.

▪ Add portables to alleviate crowding at Two Rivers, Witter Ranch, Natomas Park and Jefferson in 2015-16, once the moratorium is lifted. It is possible that portables will be needed at Bannon Creek, American Lakes and Heron K-8.

▪ Enrollment could be capped at schools as needed. The district will continue to accept transfer requests but will hold a lottery at schools that have more requests than space. Siblings will automatically be admitted. Caps are anticipated at Natomas Park and Heron K-8.

Call The Bee’s Diana Lambert, (916) 321-1090. Follow her on Twitter @dianalambert.

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