The Milton School Board has approved changes to the way the district places students in its elementary schools.

The new system, approved unanimously at a special school board meeting Tuesday, will rely on students’ home addresses and proximity to the elementary schools to determine building placement for students in 4K through third grade.

The changes coincide with the district’s decision in March to implement 4K classrooms at Milton East, Milton West and Harmony elementary schools for the 2020-21 school year. Milton West had been the only elementary school offering onsite 4K.

In the past, families had been allowed to request where their children would go for elementary school. Having 4K classrooms in all three elementary schools could lead to 4K students going to different elementary schools than their older siblings.

Under the new placement strategy, families will not be allowed to request that their children be placed into elementary schools outside their assigned building except in extreme cases.

Some students currently ride a bus to one school before getting on a separate transfer bus which takes them to their own schools. Some students have missed instructional time as a result of the transfer rides sometimes taking too long, Superintendent Rich Dahman said.

Milton East Principal Jen Cramer and Milton West Principal Marcia Schwengels were reviewing bus routes ahead of adding 4K classrooms when they realized a better solution might exist, Cramer said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Dahman said the new system will save the district money and allow it to be more efficient and eliminate two to four bus routes entirely. He also said the change will result in less stress over transportation and less lost instruction time for all parties.

On average, Schwengels said bus rides will be 10-15 minutes shorter for students.

Dahman estimated 10 to 15% of current students will be required to change schools next year. Principals will be contacting families affected before the end of June.

“While it does have an impact on those 10 to 15% of students, it also has a very positive impact overall on our students and our district,” Dahman said.

Dahman said financial costs weren’t the reason for the changes but that the savings from the change might be helpful as the district navigates pandemic-related changes over the next few months.

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