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Linn-Mar Changes Approved

MARION (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- Parents in the Linn-Mar school district may be among the best map readers in the state. Every few years, growing pains and a steady increase in population bring boundary changes and force some of their kids to swap schools.

It happened again Monday night as school board members viewed the latest options. Administrators are trying to balance school populations and predict future needs and right now there are hundreds more students at Excelsior Middle School than at Oak Ridge Middle School. That means redirecting kids while they are still in elementary schools.

About  25  parents attended the school board meeting and about a half dozen voiced concerns. Some wore t-shirts with the slogan Save Area 12, referring to one neighborhood in the district thats been impacted by almost every boundary change in the last 15 years.

Emotions ran high as moms and dads pleaded their cases and tried to convince board members how sad it would be for their children to be forced to leave their friends to attend another school.

Others talked about safety and changes that might take more school buses on to County Home Road where winter driving can be dangerous. Michael Stoddard reminded the board that his older child was moved three times in earlier boundary changes and now his first grade twins could be uprooted too.

In the end,  members of the Linn-Mar school board apologized to all the parents and lamented there being no easy decision and voted to move youngsters in Area 12 from Novak Elementary to Bowman Woods.

Stoddard asked for time to find his filter before talking to reporters and then detailed how frustrating it is to be impacted once again by the never-ending boundary changes in the district. He says he realizes the board and committee members who offered suggestions are in a tough position, but added it seems his neighborhood doesnt receive any respect.

Linn-Mar administrators say the area has grown by more than 8,000 people in the last decade and much of that growth is young families with school-aged children. Deputy Superintendent Dirk Halupnik says the district realizes it needs to try harder to make long term plans for growth, but he says at the same time leaders would much rather be shifting students around in a growing area than trying to decide which schools to close in a dying one.
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