Midland picks up student-free attendance area

       Midland will take over multiple acres of the Ivywild attendance area in the 2009-10 year in the new boundary area approved by the District 11 Board of Education April 22 as the next step in its School Utilization Plan.
       But that doesn't mean Midland will get any students from Ivywild, which is slated to close after this year. Why not? Because the inherited area, straddling Eighth Street, not only has no students, it has no houses, according to Frank Bernhard, District 11's executive director of Transportation, Facilities and Security. It basically takes in Motor City, an office park and the eastern end of Bear Creek Park.
       Earlier in the Utilization Plan process, Midland had been considered to absorb up to half of Ivywild's 150-some students. “But in the end we found sending them to Hunt and Columbia worked better,” Bernhard said.
       Under the board-approved plan, Midland will take in one new attendance area - south of Highway 24 and west of Eighth Street that includes 40-some students who had attended Washington School, which also is closing.
       This will put Midland at about 190 students next year. The school has room for 225, so the new number would be very close to the 85 percent the level district officials like, because it leaves room for students permitting in, Bernhard said.
       The 225 capacity is below the 300-student minimum that District 11 is aiming for with the Utilization Plan; however, the 10-acre Midland site also leaves room for a larger new school at some point in the future. The possibility exists because the large-scale Gold Hill Mesa housing development east of 21st Street is in the Midland attendance area. It only has about 50 homes now, but is masterplanned for about 1,000.
       “We're watching the Gold Hill Mesa project,” Bernhard said. “If it were to take off, then Midland would take a very high priority for us.”
       A new school, rather than an addition, would be the likelihood because of issues with Midland's foundation. Different methods were used on the two projects that created the permanent buildings. As a result, the foundation “floats unevenly,” Bernhard said, and sometimes results in doors not closing properly.

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