School district in first phases of boundary review process

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Staff Writer

COEUR d’ALENE — The Coeur d'Alene School District is in its first phases of reviewing school-zone boundary changes that could go into effect for the next school year.

In August, the school board approved the review to be conducted by FLO Analytics, a Portland-based consultancy that uses geography and data analytics to help clients.

Proposals from six companies were submitted after a request for proposal was sent out by the school district. Responses came from FLO, Cooperative Strategies in Colorado, DecisionInsite in California, MGT Consulting Group in Florida and North Idaho companies JUB Engineers and Teater & Crocker.

A team of six reviewed and scored all proposals. FLO scored the highest and was selected for the job, which will cost about $111,000.

"One reason I remember them standing out is because of their experience in this very process," said Scott Maben, Coeur d'Alene Public Schools director of communications. "In the past three years they've done this with 12 different school districts across the Pacific Northwest. We knew they had a track record of success with this."

After consulting with FLO, the district administrative team leading this project recommended a committee to be formed to assist with the boundary review planning process. This recommendation was unanimously approved at Monday's school board meeting.

The committee will comprise 37 members: One administrator or principal and one parent representative from each potentially affected school, three members of the district's long-range planning committee and two members of the superintendent advisory committee. All but Venture High School will be represented, as Venture will not be affected by zone changes.

"The committee will have its mission," Maben said. "We're working on developing that right now. That will come back to the board at the December meeting."

Coeur d'Alene will not be expanding or annexing any land, but reviewing what changes may be made within the existing district to accommodate for growth and safety. Many schools are at or over capacity and construction of new housing in some zones is putting pressure on existing schools.

A zoning process survey that went out to district families at the start of the school year yielded responses from about 2,000 Coeur d'Alene families. It asked what values are most important to district families and what they want the district to take into consideration when making changes to the map — it might be that students can walk safely to school, that they don't have to cross major arterials or railroad tracks or that the attendance zone preserves the quality of a neighborhood school.

"It’s clear that people do care about this," Maben said. "That (number of responses) is probably close to one third of the households representing our students. We were pleasantly surprised by the big turnout on those surveys. It was phenomenal. I think it means we can probably look forward to people being very much engaged with this in the next few months, especially when we get to the point that we have some preliminary proposals."

The district will receive a springboard proposal from FLO Analytics Nov. 19. Committee meetings will take place in December, January and February.

Community open houses for the public to provide input will be held Jan. 21 and Feb. 18. The final presentation to the school board will take place March 18.

"It's important for folks to know that we're going to be very transparent and open about this process," Maben said. "There will be opportunities for them to give us their opinion along the way. We’re counting on that. We just want everyone to be well informed every step of the way."

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