Granting out-of-area requests more challenging for MCPS - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Granting out-of-area requests more challenging for MCPS

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MISSOULA - Incoming freshmen to Missoula County Public high schools have enjoyed the option of choosing which high school to attend, even if it’s not the school closest to their home.

But getting ‘out of area’ approval is getting more difficult because of class size and school construction.  Some like the 4H factor or the fine arts, or the schools with a successful team.

“I think there are perceptions in the community about the relative strengths of the programs in the different high schools whether it be the fine performing arts or the science education," said MCPS Superintendent Mark Thane.

Missoula students have had the opportunity to select the high school they felt better matched their ambition and interest for some 15 years.  And for year’s it’s been doable but now it’s getting tougher for MCPS to accommodate the requests because there are fewer classrooms available and a lot of incoming students.

"We’re taking some classrooms out of circulation in various schools because they’re being renovated so that’s created a capacity issue in some of our high schools that is somewhat temporary in nature, but then we’re challenged by our budget in the ability to add staff in our high schools and what that means is as classes approach accreditation standards there’s not the capacity to put the schedules together to meet the needs of all students," Thane explained.

Some eighth-grade students hoping for an out of area school got the thumbs up in January while others are in a holding pattern for now with two more chances of getting in.

“There are those that made requests based on time and date stamp whose requests have been honored but the others will be reviewed two different times and as capacity warrants, we allow more in district movement," Thane said.

This is the third consecutive year the high schools are seeing a bump in enrollment. Students who are still waiting to see if they got their choice high school could find out on June 1 and again on Aug. 27.

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