School board votes to keep kids in Lower Valley
The District 51 school board decision to bus south Fruita children to Loma Elementary instead of Scenic Elementary on the Redlands brought cheers to parents and school officials in Fruita.
The boundary change is necessary to relieve overcrowding at Rim Rock and Shelledy elementary schools in Fruita. Room was available in Loma and at Scenic, but the preferred choice for most in Fruita is Loma.
“I think based on the choices they (the school board) had, it was an excellent decision,’’ said Jami Petree, a south Fruita mom whose two grade-schoolers currently attend Shelledy. “It makes more sense to send the south Fruita children to Loma, which for the most part is an extension of Fruita.’’
Tentative plans call for eventually sending about 150 students living south of Interstate 70, who currently attend Shelledy, to Loma.
Meanwhile, an undetermined number of children who live near the border between the Rim Rock and Shelledy boundary will be transferred to Shelledy over time.
The moves will give breathing room to both schools, which have been crowded with more students that the buildings are suited for.
Exact boundaries and numbers of children aren’t firmed up and won’t be until the schools’ transition plan is formulated and adopted.
Tami Kramer, principal at Rim Rock, said notices have been sent to parents to start the planning process. Wide community involvement is expected.
“It’s not going to happen all at once,’’ Kramer said. “It won’t be a big number of kids to start with. It may be giving families the chance to make the choice, or it could start with just a couple of grades at a time.’’
According to District 51 projections, Rim Rock is expected to have 90 more students next school year than it’s built for, and Shelledy is expected to have 82 more.
Most community members, Kramer said, prefer to use Loma as the overcrowding outlet rather than Scenic.
“We’d rather have Loma in the mix rather than the Redlands,’’ she said. “Loma is a part of the Fruita community. Loma kids play on Fruita sports team and swim at the Fruita Community Center.’’
Keeping south Fruita kids in the Fruita community is important to Petree and her family, too.
“There is a strong sense of belonging and participating in a small community such as Fruita,’’ Petree said. “If you force these select few to go to elementary school in the Redlands you will not only be taking away the school that they have always attended and love, you will be stripping the sense of community from them.’’
“By transferring the south Fruita kids to Loma, you will be allowing them to keep their sense of belonging and remain part of the community they live in,’’ Petree added.